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
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.
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 companies were forced to lay off employees.
It is estimated
that the travel industry lost more than 500,000 jobs in the wake of
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
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.
reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].