NEW ORLEANS -- Kamaci Williams is spending the weekend in New Orleans with friends for a celebration combining her birthday with Essence Fest.
"I'm really enjoying it," said Williams, who is visiting from Memphis.
An estimated 400,000 people are expected in town this weekend for Essence Fest-- an annual event of music and empowerment sessions for fans.
"[I'm] spending a whole lot of money," said April Johnson of Memphis.
The weekend is also providing a $100 million economic boost, according to the New Orleans Visitors and Convention Bureau. It's a weekend that the tourism industry in New Orleans has come to rely on in July.
"It's very important. We're probably one of the very few cities in the country that have the kind of occupancy," said Mavis Early with the Greater New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association.
Early said on Friday and Saturday, hotel occupancy in the city was at 96 percent. Hotel occupancy for the final night of Essence -- on Sunday -- was at 90 percent.
"Many of them book early. They know what room they want," she said. "They ask for the room number. They're very loyal to New Orleans and to the Essence Festival."
Williams and her friends say lodging remained one of the most expensive aspects of their trip.
"The hotel was a big expense because of the fees and rates, and I know it's an event this weekend," she said.
It's not just hotels that are benefiting, though. Essence Fest ticket holders said they also plan to spend money beyond their basic travel necessities.
"We're just enjoying it," said Darnell Webber, who was visiting from Chicago. "I mean, eating it where we can eat, party where we can party and doing what we can do."
"If we see something interesting, we'll be stopping in," Williams said.
Others are already planning for next year.
"This is my first one," said Brian Hawkins of St. Louis. "Won't be my last one, though."