By Rob Masson|May 4, 2021 at 3:33 PM CDT - Updated May 4 at 4:29 PM
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - After a long, pandemic-induced period of emptiness, hotels in the Big Easy are starting to fill up. Weekend business has been especially strong but big challenges remain.
Over the past year, some hotels closed and others suffered through some of the lowest occupancies they’ve ever seen, but some hotels are once again experiencing full houses.
“What we are seeing is a pretty good uptick in business on the weekends, typically starting on Thursday evening and then selling out on Fridays and Saturdays,” said Monteleone Hotel General Manager Steve Caputo.
Tourism leaders say the rooms are filling up with weekend travelers who usually drive in from places like Houston, Alabama, or Florida. And while the business is appreciated, the city is still a long way from filling up mid-week.
“We still have a long way to go before we have full restoration of our industry and that is going to take conventions, cruise ships, weddings, and international travel,” said Kelly Schulz with New Orleans and Company.
While getting conventions back is a huge challenge, so is bringing back workers.
“We are in need of about 50 [employees],” said Caputo.
Hotel and restaurant workers are having to make due, as they deal with short staffs and full capacity.
“Everyone is doing more with less. All of our management team is doing multiple jobs,” said Caputo.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes to fill thousands of employment vacancies with a job fair at the Morial Convention Center on Wednesday, May 5.
The tourists are coming back, but tourism leaders say they may have to juggle a little bit to handle the influx. Right now tourism leaders say with Jazz Fest and some convention bookings, October will likely be the best tourism month of 2021.