City adds more hotel rooms, but do they need them?

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 30, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 30 at 6:49 PM

Christina Leavenworth / WWLTV.com

NEW ORLEANS – With Mardi Gras just around the corner and then the Final 4, followed by the Super Bowl in 2013, New Orleans continues to be a hot attraction for visitors.

During the BCS Championship hotels were almost at 100 percent occupancy.

“The national exposure with those types of sporting events, you can’t put a price on it,” said Mavis Early, the executive director of the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association. She said the city’s goal is to attract close to six million more people each year by 2018, and, if that happens, more hotel rooms will be a must.

Two new hotels just opened this past month and some people are wondering if the additional rooms are needed.

In 2004, there were around 2,500 more hotel rooms in the Greater New Orleans area than there are now. But there were also a whole lot more people visiting, almost two million per year at that time.

“I would not like 3,000 rooms dumped in the market all at one time,” emphasized Early. “That would skew things, but if you could keep the supply and demand and do a gradual increase in rooms over time, that would give the market time to adjust.”

“If you ask any hotelier if they want more rooms, they’ll probably tell you no,” said Wyant. “Of course, that would be good for the city, I’m sure. As a hotelier, it seems to me like we have a lot of rooms here.

This past weekend a new boutique hotel, the Saint, opened in the historic Audubon building, adding 166 rooms to the city. And, rooms at the hotel are already booking up, but hotel owner Jana Wyant says it’s obvious if the city keeps adding more rooms it means less business for existing hotels.

However, if you ask those visiting the city, more rooms would probably be a good thing.

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