Louisiana tallies gulf tourism losses

Jan. 23, 2011 at 1:46 PM

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The gulf oil disaster is hurting tourism in Louisiana, but cleanup-related business travel is offsetting some of the loss, a state report says.

The report from state tourism agency projects spending on leisure travel will fall by $691 million through 2013, but business travel, including by media, government officials and cleanup crews, will rise by about $395 million, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reports.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said, "It means we have a challenge."

He said business travel "has softened the blow. It provided cash in the affected areas while the crisis was ongoing. ... The issue is now dealing with the perception that is still out there that oil is still washing ashore."

The report raised the number of business visitors expected in 2011 from 6.4 million to 6.8 million, but trimmed the number of tourists from 18.3 to 17.6 million.

Tourism revenue projections for this year have been revised to $8.55 billion, including $2.49 billion in the business sector and $6.06 billion in leisure spending.

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