TIA: Katrina could cause Gulf Coast to lose $5B in tourism By Michael Milligan / September 20, 2005 Share 1 -- Northstar offers free office space, job wanted adsSECAUCUS, N.J. -- Travel industry trade publisher Northstar Travel Media (NTM) is offering free office space and online "job wanted" ads to travel and meetings professionals who lost their job or business as a result of Hurricane Katrina.NTM is offering space in its northern New Jersey headquarters here and online classified ads on TravelWeekly.com and TravelAgeWest.com.Inquiries about office space should be directed to Leena Clausell at (201) 902-1784, firstname.lastname@example.org. To run a free classified "job wanted" ad, send your name, qualifications, type of job sought, phone number and e-mail contact information to email@example.com.NTM is the parent company of Travel Weekly, TravelAge West, Meetings and Conventions, Hotel & Travel Index, Intelliguide, Star Service, Official Hotel Guide International and Official Meetings Facilities Guide.WASHINGTON -- The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina on Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi earlier this month is draining as a much as $50 million a day in tourism revenue from those states, according to the Travel Industry Association (TIA). The TIA estimates that the bulk of those losses are in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana, which the association estimates is losing at least $37 million in tourism daily.Alabama is losing $5.5 million a day, the association estimates, while the tab for Mississippi, where many casinos and hotels were left in ruins by the storm, is running at $7.7 million a day.Although some areas may recover sooner than others, it is nevertheless likely that the affected Gulf Coast states stand to lose more than $5 billion in tourism by the end of the year.The TIA also estimates that at least 260,000 travel-related jobs have been lost, at least temporarily. (See related story below.)The huge job and revenue losses makes Katrina one of the costliest disasters to hit the travel industry since 9/11. Nevertheless, the impact on the overall travel industry is expected to be less severe.Katrina is a major tragedy, a TIA spokeswoman said, but 9/11 was different. People were afraid to fly, they were afraid to go to cities, which stifled travel throughout the U.S. as well as abroad.Additionally, the spokeswoman said, the faltering economy took a significant toll on tourism in the aftermath of 9/11. As the economy slowed, a great many companies laid off employees, which cut demand for business travel.Similarly, many travel companies were forced to lay off employees.It is estimated that the travel industry lost more than 500,000 jobs in the wake of 9/11.Katrinas impact on Louisiana, a major oil refinery center, could have a broader impact on the overall economy if fuel prices, already up considerably from last year, continue to rise.That in turn would raise the prices of consumer goods, causing a ripple effect that ultimately could hurt the travel industry.You could see prices go up on everything from tomatoes to coffee, the spokeswoman said.If that happens, and the economy does grow and people lose consumer confidence and start spending less discretionary income, that could [negatively] affect the industry. But that is something we are really going to have to wait and see.To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.Job bank created to aid displaced work forceIn an effort to help workers in the travel industry displaced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, travel companies and trade groups led by the Travel Industry Association and the Travel Business Roundtable (TBR) have created an online job bank that will serve as a clearinghouse for travel-related employment opportunities across the U.S.The Travel & Tourism Coalition, a group comprising 37 travel associations as well as hotel chains such as Loews, Marriott and Choice, is lending support to the job bank, at www.katrinajobs.org, which launched on Sept. 15 with more than 1,000 job listings. The listings are expected to grow significantly in the weeks and months to come, officials said."One out of every eight Americans works in our industry. We are one of the largest employers," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the TIA. "When you look around the country, we are the No. 1, 2 or 3 [employer] in 49 of the 50 states. There are 680,000 travel related jobs in [the 49] states."In the counties and parishes of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, which bore the brunt of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, there are 260,000 jobs that are travel- and tourism-related, Dow said."That's one out of every five jobs in the area," he added.The negative impact on tourism jobs is multiplied, he said, when taking the ripple effect of what happened to different travel suppliers into account.In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many people, including those employed in the travel industry, were forced to evacuate, some as far away as Utah."If you look at the immediate needs [of the evacuees], they are safety, shelter and medical. That's critical," Dow said. "But no one wants to live long-term in temporary housing. They want to get on with their lives and support their families."With such groups as the Red Cross tending to the evacuees' shelter and medical needs, Dow said the travel industry decided to provide them aid in establishing new employment."It is important to put a human face on the tragedy we are now living with in the Gulf region," said Jonathan Tisch, the chairman of Loews Hotels, who also heads the TBR. "It is incumbent on us in the travel industry to put aside any individual concerns we may have to create jobs and help build this part of the country through the travel and tourism industry."The jobs listed on the site, which had been in development before the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, range from hotels seeking chefs and general managers to companies seeking maintenance workers.Tisch said the travel industry may need to work with places of worship, libraries and technology companies to help evacuees living in shelters gain access to computers so that they can log onto the job bank."This is about partnerships and the power of partnership," Tisch said. -- M.M.