By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor
Projected state and local tax revenues from hotels are expected to eclipse pre-pandemic levels this year to bring more than $1 billion to Louisiana.
An Oxford Economic Analysis released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association on Tuesday estimates 2023 state and local taxes generated by hotels will come in at $1,000,570,892, 5.1% higher than in the $951 million collected in 2019.
The increase translates into nearly $49 million more in 2023 than before the pandemic.
Nationwide, projected tax revenues this year are expected to increase 13.6% from 2019, jumping more than $5.5 billion from $41.1 billion to $46.7 billion in 2023. The projected revenue increase will surpass pre-pandemic levels in all 50 states, though local revenues in the District of Columbia are expected to decline 1.1%, according to the report.
“Hotels are making significant strides toward recovery, supporting millions of good-paying jobs and generating billions in state and local tax revenue in communities across the nation,” AHLA CEO Chip Rogers said. “To continue growing, we need to hire more people. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to be a hotel employee, with wages, benefits, flexibility and upward mobility better than ever before.”
While figures vary slightly, the AHLA report confirms a trend of increasing tax revenues from tourism since the pandemic outlined in the state’s most recent tourism spending report, which covers 2019 through 2021.
The May 2022 report from the University of New Orleans showed total state and local taxes generated by tourism stood at $1.3 billion in 2019, before cratering to $850 million in 2020. That figure rebounded to more than $1.2 billion in 2021, and officials expect the growth to continue.
A separate visitor volume and spending report from the same time complied by MMGY Travel Intelligence showed a total of 52.1 million person stays statewide in 2019, a figure that dipped to 31.59 million in 2020, before increasing to 40.87 million in 2021.
Domestic visitor spending followed a similar track, going from $17.8 billion in 2019 to $12.9 billion in 2020 to $16.2 billion in 2021.
The upward trajectory for Louisiana hotels and the broader tourism industry comes amid what Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, who leads the state’s tourism efforts, described as a full-court press to promote “every fair, festival and every event in every corner of this state.”
“We know getting back open is only part of what we need to do, but if restaurants, shops and attractions don’t make money, they won’t make it,” he told lawmakers during the 2022 budget process. “So we’re having to dig deep into every area of the state and promote every event because most of them don’t have any money to promote.”
Lawmakers ultimately approved about $20 million to boost Louisiana tourism in the 2022-23 budget.