The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought carnival parades to a halt in 2021, but the 2022 season has been a resounding success for the parish of St. Tammany, Donna O’Daniels, CEO of the Tourism and Convention Commission, told board members at their June 16 meeting.
And for the first time, O’Daniels said their research shows people have chosen St. Tammany as a Mardi Gras destination because they feel safer celebrating on the North Shore.
The data was obtained from surveys conducted by Randall Travel Marketing, which conducted in-depth face-to-face interviews with travelers at St. Tammany’s hotels, attractions and sporting events.
“What we’re hearing is something we’ve never heard before is that people come here because they feel safe,” O’Daniels said. “They choose our destination for security reasons.”
O’Daniels said it should give local Carnival Krewe leaders a reason to rethink when their parades take to the streets.
“In the past, there may have been specialists, planners, organizers (in St. Tammany) who thought, “Will I do something here this weekend with Bacchus, Endymion and all these other things going on (in New Orleans),” O’ said Daniels.
She shared additional research from Zartico, a national data company whose research suggests holding more parades or carnival events over the big weekend before Mardi Gras is likely to keep the party and dollar flowing on the North Shore.
“Perhaps we are approaching a point where not only residents want to stay in St. Tammany, but also guests,” she added.
A Zartico study found that more out-of-state visitors came to St. Tammany’s carnival events in 2022 than in 2019. retail stores as well.
Zartico data showed there were more revelers in the state, especially from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, to keep the Mardi Gras spirit alive this year and in St. Tammany.
In other matters, at the June 14 meeting, the panel received a 2021 net audit report presented by John Murray of CPA and LaPorte Business Advisors.
O’Daniels added that she and her staff are preparing to re-accredit with Destinations International, which represents convention and visitor bureaus around the world. A member of the organization evaluates groups in 27 areas of excellence every four years, she said.