Busy holiday weekend instore for New Orleans

May 19 2011 | Latest News
Memorial Day shaping up to be a busy one for NOLA

by Christian Moises, News Editor
May 19th, 2011

Memorial Day is shaping up to be a busy weekend for the New Orleans area tourism industry.

National business insight consulting firm Travelclick found that reservations and group sales that are already on the books for national hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood, parent company of the Sheraton brand, in the New Orleans area are up 17.8 percent for the Friday-Monday weekend.

Broken down by day, occupancy is up 21.3 percent from May 27, up 16.1 percent for May 28 and up 11.1 percent May 29. But rooms are also more expensive at an average of $121.16 for the weekend. That’s 16.5 percent more for May 27, 18 percent more May 28 and 16.1 percent more May 29. Travelclick collected results from 63 hotels that represent nearly 16,500 rooms.

Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York also made the list.

AAA also released its holiday forecast today, saying 34.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the Memorial Day weekend, just 0.2 percent more than in 2010. About 30.9 million of those people are expected to drive to their destination.

Given that about 31 million drove last year, having only about 1,000 fewer people on the roads given current gas prices is not all bad news. The average price for a gallon of unleaded is at $3.91 today, down from $3.99 a week ago but significantly more than the $2.85 amount last year. Prices in New Orleans were also down nearly 10 cents today from $3.81 a week ago to $3.73 this morning. But they were running an average of $2.70 per gallon a year ago.

A survey of intended travelers found that six out of 10 people said rising gasoline prices would not impact their travel plans. Of the remaining 40 percent of travelers who said rising gas prices would impact their travel plans, 70 percent will economize in other areas and the rest will take a shorter trip or travel by an alternate mode of transportation.

The average distance traveled during the weekend is expected to be 792 miles, which is 27 percent more than last year’s average travel distance of 626 miles.

AAA also found that spending is expected to drop 14 percent from $809 in 2010 to $692 this year.