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'It's just another hit to the economy': 2020 festival cancellations will affect budget

“We just came off of our best tourism year ever, $1.8 billion in taxes left here by tourists. That's over $1,000 per family in Louisiana," said Lt. Gov. Nungesser

NEW ORLEANS — Essence Festival organizers made the call, saying they won’t be holding their event in New Orleans until 2021.

According to officials with the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the economic impact of the Essence Festival in 2019 was $300 million with an attendance of nearly half a million people, but it’s an impact the city won’t feel this year.

Essence Festival organizers responded to Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s recommendation that all major festivals be postponed until 2021, they released this statement saying in part: "New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell bravely recommended yesterday that no large events take place in New Orleans in 2020, and ESSENCE fully supports that decision. We are confirming today that we will no longer move forward with the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture live experience – and look forward to returning to New Orleans in 2021."

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said the state will certainly feel the impact of the loss of so many tourism dollars.

“When you look at events like the Essence, French Quarter Fest, Jazz Festival you are talking hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact,” said Nungesser. “We just came off of our best tourism year ever, $1.8 billion in taxes left here by tourists. That's over $1,000 per family in Louisiana that's going to have to be made up somewhere in the state budget.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards initiated a resilience commission, one that Nungesser sits on, to figure out how to not only open the state’s economy back up but how to open it back up slowly and more importantly safely.

“Every time we go a little further along — and obviously the safety of the people is far more important, but every time something gets canceled, it’s just another hit to the economy,” said Nungesser. “That trickle-down effect to every shop owner, restaurant, tour operator around the state.”

In the meantime, Essence Festival has done what so many of us have been forced to do, go virtual. They plan to host a virtual festival via their streaming platforms on the same dates they would typically hold the festival.

SEE: LIST: New Orleans-area cancelled and postponed events

Visit essence.com for more information. In addition, their editorial team is producing daily content on our dedicated page to educate the community on the coronavirus, its impact, best practices for prevention and how we can not only survive, but thrive, through this time.


MORE: Louisiana Coronavirus Outbreak Interactive Map

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