I mentioned in an earlier blog that New Orleans wouldn’t be rebuilt because tourism is a losing business.
So many people have demanded proof that I dug up the data. The pure case is Maui, an island.
Maui is more than a pure case, it is a “best case” because the average tourist stays a whole week, rents a car and has no relatives in Maui. This compares with Disneyland or Disney World where people only stay for one day. There is virtually no other business in Maui, the farms produce sugar and pineapple worth less than 10% of the island’s total revenue.
Here are the facts:
Here are the facts: 2.3 million tourists spend $2.5 billion dollars which supports 115,000 people permanently living on the island of Maui. Of the 115,000 residents, 55,000 work. The rest don’t work; 27,000 are under 18 years old, 12,000 are over 65 years old. Of the $2.5 billion that the tourists spend, $1.0 billion is spent on hotel and condo lodging, which directly supports 10,000 workers. Local transportation expenditures are half a billion dollars and support 5,000 transit drivers and other related workers. Another three-quarters of a billion dollars is spent on food, one third in restaurants, creating jobs for 3-4,000 cooks, waiters and other food service staff.
When thinking about tourism in New Orleans, it is better to modify data to more closely resemble San Francisco where four times as many out-of-the-area visitors spend half as much money as visitors to Maui do. San Francisco and New Orleans have roughly the same number of tourists who spend the same amount of money.
That means that tourism could support a population in New Orleans and the surrounding area of less than 230,000 people. That is less than half of the pre-Katrina New Orleans City population of 480,000 and, considering the low wages in tourism, less than 100,000 could be expected to live in the City. So the City would shrink to less than one quarter of its size living on tourism.
I’ll make the statement more emphatic: tourism, the only viable business, could barely support New Orleans at one quarter of its pre-Katrina population.