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Jazz Fest cancellation is a 'big blow to economy'

"We don’t want to see any more cancellations and there is a way to avoid it, that is getting more and more people vaccinated."

NEW ORLEANS — Jazz Fest has been added to the list of events canceled this Fall in New Orleans due to concerning COVID numbers. 

It's a hit to the tourism and hospitality industry, as many workers were counting on the busy October.

"We like to say it's equivalent to a Super Bowl every year so we've certainly missed out on that," Kelly Schulz with New Orleans & Co. said. "We don’t want to see any more cancellations and there is a way to avoid it, that is getting more and more people vaccinated."

Stronghold Studios decorates Jazz Fest. Their paintings and sculptures make up the stage and booth decorations that bring the Fairgrounds to life during Jazz Fest every year. The decorations will sit in the studio for another eight months, as owner Coco Darrow will feel the economic hit first hand.

"It means we are in danger of losing our business, just like every other small business that relies on music festivals and Mardi Gras," Darrow said.

"With the numbers spiking, I'm not surprised, but it was like a punch in the gut," said Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser.

Jazz Fest has an economic impact of more than $300 million according to Nungesser and Jazz Fest organizers.

"It’s a big blow to the economy," Nungesser said.

Nungesser is hopeful we'll see Jazz Fest return in 2022. Organizers are already making plans for the April and May dates.

"People getting vaccinated, wearing their mask keeping their distance, and just being aware that we have to turn this around," he said.

Many hotels in the city were already fully booked or approaching 100 percent capacity for both of those Jazz Fest weekends, now they're getting calls to cancel reservations, but some hotel managers are still hopeful for business this fall.

Area General Manager for Marriott New Orleans, Frank Zumbo released the following statement: 

"Our hotels were anticipating strong occupancy over the two weekends of Jazz Festival; however, October has historically been a strong month in the city for tourism – both group and leisure business. We experienced a strong return of leisure guests this summer and expect that to continue over the next few months especially as the weather gets cooler. We have also seen a rebound in group business for the fall with the return of some larger conventions mixed in with smaller group business at the hotel. The enhanced safety, cleanliness and social distancing measures we established last year with Marriott's Commitment to Clean are still in place so guests can travel and stay with confidence. As we look forward, we are excited to welcome our Jazz Festival guests when they return next Spring and any time in between."

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