Hotel, motel occupancy only falls 8% in highly unusual 2020

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By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

It looks like tourism, as determined by the hotel/motel tax revenue, held its own during the pandemic. Financials from the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission (NPTC) provided at their Jan. 19 regular meeting revealed only an 8% decrease on the year.

Natchitoches Wood

In 2019, the NPTC collected $422,764 in hotel/motel occupancy tax compared to $390,576 in 2020. The tax collections in 2020 were below their 2019 counterparts from April through September. The largest deficits were a $19,973 in April and a $24,751 drop in June. Due to the pandemic, many spring and summer events were moved to the fall. This is evident by a $21,849 uptick in October 2020 over the same month in 2019.

“Despite many cancelled festivals, meetings and events in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we managed to keep our hotel occupancy tax collection compared to 2019 below 10%. Many cities and communities across the state and country were not as fortunate. We were very concerned early in the year and made budget cuts to prepare for loss of tax revenue,” said NPTC Executive Director Arlene Gould. “We may be doing the same for the first few months of 2021.”

Gould also announced they received a $60,000 Sunshine Plan grant from the state for advertising. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Office of Tourism developed the program to support the recovery of the travel and tourism industry in Louisiana. This grant provides 100% reimbursement for eligible media placements made prior to June 30, 2021. In addition, the NPTC hired intern Leanna Toy.

Their office is still closed to the public in light of Covid-19, however tourists may access brochures, rack cards and other materials from the sidewalk outside their office.

NPTC Marketing & Communications Director Kelli West said media exposure was strong in November and December. She said a quarter page ad was placed in Louisiana Life magazine and she had participated in several public relations events.

David Guillet was elected NPTC Chairman, Landon Amberg as Vice-Chair and Jan Frederick as Treasurer.

Published Jan. 23-24, 2021