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A Look at the Hospitality Industry in Louisiana

The restaurant, hotel and hospitality industry is one of the world's largest industries. Restaurants and hotels combined earned more than 2.5 trillion dollars in 2016.

Few state economies have as many hospitality and tourism-related businesses as Louisiana's. State visitation and spending has risen steadily since 2005, and tourism-related spending reached approximately $11.7 billion dollars in 2016. The figure could surpass $12 billion in 2017, with more than 30 million expected visitors. That is enough people to fill the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to capacity 392 times. Cha-ching!

Speaking of the Superdome, the city of New Orleans broke a tourism record for visitation and spending in 2016. Visitors spent $7.41 billion dollars, a 5.1 percent increase compared to the record set in 2015. And according to the French Quarter Business Association, "… the city hosted a record-breaking 10.45 million visitors, the highest since 2004 and a 6.9 percent increase compared to 2015."

For those who see the hospitality industry's growth as an opportunity for a rewarding career, in the state or beyond, investing in a specialized education makes good business sense. To that end, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette offers an MBA with a concentration in Hospitality Management program online. Whether you are looking for a management position abroad or seeking to expand your current business in Louisiana, this unique, 15-month degree program provides thorough preparation for an exciting career.

What Is the Industry's Scope in Louisiana?

From restaurants to resorts, cruise ships to theme parks, and retail to theater, the hospitality business exists to serve people. Industry professionals should have the same mindset. It is about welcoming guests, engaging with them and making them happy about spending their money with your enterprise. Hospitality is at the core of everything you do in this industry, whether you are running a hotel, managing travel agents or managing event logistics.

The industry encompasses five major sectors: lodging, restaurants and bars, transportation, entertainment and recreation, and general retail. The state revenue contributions from each sector have been remarkably consistent from 2013 through 2015, though transportation dipped from 14 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2015. Restaurants and bars were the largest sector in 2015, accounting for 30 percent of the revenue. This was followed by lodging at 24 percent, entertainment and recreation at 21 percent, general retail at 14 percent, and transportation at 10 percent.

It should be noted that other states cannot easily emulate Louisiana's model for tourism. The state has a unique cultural flavor and rich history -- the Louisiana Purchase, the French influence on Creole and Cajun cuisine, jazz music, and of course, Mardi Gras, just to name a few examples. These historical and cultural elements will continue to deepen the state's appeal and continue to attract new and repeat tourists.

Key Indicators of Industry Prosperity

Louisiana's thriving hospitality industry now employs 171,000 people, up 58 percent from 108,000 people in 2006. It is now the fourth largest industry for employment in the state, after healthcare, retail trade and food services. The industry's vibrancy today is especially notable considering the setback due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In terms of key tourism indicators, Louisiana served 7 million airport passengers in 2016. It also sold 22 million hotel room nights and 3.1 million convention room nights. These measures are all projected to show steady growth over the next few years, with the most dramatic growth projected in the airline industry. The number of airport passengers is expected to grow at an average of 6 percent annually reaching 8.2 million passengers by 2019. These growth indicators project a substantial increase in employment, with 194,000 hospitality jobs expected in the state by 2019.

Tourism Fuels the State Economy

New Orleans is a ten-time host of the Super Bowl, America's premier sporting event. The only other city that shares this record is Miami. Rival cities bid to host each Super Bowl, raising the stakes until it becomes economically unfeasible for all but the highest bidders. The economic impact has to be significant to justify the cost. In states like Louisiana, the thriving tourism industry -- with more restaurants, hotels and bars per capita than most cities -- makes it work by maximizing Super Bowl fan spending.

This dynamic begs the larger question: "What is the contribution of the hospitality industry to the Louisiana state overall GDP?" In other words, what is the economic value added by visitor spending, both direct (hotel bills) and indirect (extra money hotel manager spends on new clothes after a raise)? Tourism added $6.8 billion dollars in direct value to the Louisiana economy and another $4.6 billion in indirect value in 2016. Both figures are projected to rise steadily over the next several years, which will necessitate a corresponding increase in educational preparation for careers in hospitality.

Uncle Sam Wants You, and So Does Cajun Country

The wheels of the hospitality industry in Louisiana, the United States, and around the world are in motion. Join the movement and accelerate its momentum by contributing your talents to the industry. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is doing everything it can to help you travel farther in your career with its specialized MBA in Hospitality Management. 

Learn more about the UL Lafayette MBA with a concentration in Hospitality Management online program.


Louisiana Tourism Forecast 2016-2019

FQBA: New Orleans Breaks Tourism Records

CNBC: Super Bowl Benefits Host City, But By How Much?

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