Tourism officials say Mardi Gras visitors choose St. Tammany because it’s safe | St.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have halted Carnival parades in 2021, but the 2022 season was a ringing success for St. Tammany Parish, Tourist and Convention Commission CEO Donna O’Daniels told board members at their June 16 meeting.
And for the first time, O’Daniels said their research shows people chose St. Tammany as a Mardi Gras destination because they feel safer celebrating on the north shore.
The data came via surveys conducted by Randall Travel Marketing, which held in-depth, face-to-face interviews with tourists at St. Tammany hotels, attractions and sporting events.
“One of the things we’re hearing that we’ve never heard before, is people are coming here because they feel safe,” O’Daniels said. “They’re choosing our destination because of the safety aspect.”
O’Daniels said that should give local Carnival krewe leaders reason to rethink when their parades hit the streets.
“In the past, there may have been krewes, planners, organizers (in St. Tammany) thinking ‘Do I do something here over the weekend with Bacchus, Endymion and all these other things going on (in New Orleans),” O’Daniels said.
She shared additional research by Zartico, a national data gathering company, whose research suggested having more parades or Carnival events on the big weekend before Mardi Gras likely would keep the party going, and the dollars flowing, on the north shore.
“We may be getting to the point where not only residents want to stay in St. Tammany, but visitors do, as well,” she added.
Zartico’s study showed more out-of-state visitors came to St. Tammany Carnival events in 2022 than in 2019. A larger number of those guests stayed overnight (80% this year compared to 63% three years ago) and they spent more in specialty retail stores, as well.
Zartico’s data showed there were more in-state revelers, particularly from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, to buoy the Mardi Gras spirit this year in St. Tammany, too.
In other business at the June 14 meeting, the commission received a clean audit for 2021, as presented by John Murray, of LaPorte CPAs and Business Advisors.
O’Daniels added that she and her staff are preparing for reaccreditation with Destinations International, which represents convention and visitor bureaus worldwide. The organization judges member groups in 27 areas of best practices every four years, she said.
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