SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - COVID-19 has had wide ranging impacts across the country. Here in Northwest Louisiana, the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau estimates the area has lost out on over $19 million in revenue from cancelled events.
“The pandemic has played a huge effect on the hospitality industry in Shreveport-Bossier,” Stacy Brown, President of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau said. “The hotels, the restaurants, all industry partners have seen a decline in business.”
According to Brown, the tourist bureau has had to cancel 96 events ranging from meetings, conventions, sporting events and group tours. Brown says the economic impact of those events alone is over $19.4 million.
“The meetings and conventions are actually just a small portion of our business,” Brown said. “The majority of our visitation is leisure travelers. So that’s people traveling here to go to the casinos, other attractions, enjoying our community. That’s played a large impact. We have seen our income decrease by 50%.”
The hospitality industry is a major employer in our area; thousands have already been impacted with job losses as a result of COVID-19.
“We have seen about a 50% loss of jobs in the hospitality industry,” Brown said. “So it is very important to bring back that business to our community. Even if a local person says they are not affected by tourism, they are. These people pay tax dollars you would otherwise have to pay.”
However, she says the industry has been picking back up.
“One of the things that has kicked us off was in mid-May when the casinos opened,” Brown said. “We saw our search engine numbers go up significantly and have been climbing ever since. The casinos play a huge part in inviting people back to our community.”
According to Brown, one way we can help the businesses is by having a stay-cation.
”We have seen some local people say they are tired of their home but aren’t really ready to travel outside of their area,” Brown said. “They can stay home, stay at a hotel, visit local attractions like Sci Port and the Aquarium. They are open and ready for visitors.”
Brown says local businesses that have reopened are practicing guidelines to keep visitors and patrons safe. She says all local attractions are being hit especially hard right now, so local visitors can help keep them from potentially shutting down for good.