In a press conference held in the Rex Den on South Claiborne Avenue, researchers presented the findings of their recently completed study documenting the financial impact of Carnival, the first such study performed since Katrina.
Focused on the economic impact of the 2009 Mardi Gras season, the new study by two professors at Tulane University shows a net fiscal benefit to the City of New Orleans of approximately four and a half to one (4.5:1), representing the incremental tax revenues earned by the City over the cost of its direct services to support the event.
Dr. Paul A. Spindt, Keehn Berry Professor of Banking and Finance at Tulane University's A.B. Freeman School of Business; and Toni Weiss, an economics professor at Tulane, performed the new study, compiled on behalf of the New Orleans Carnival Krewe Civic Fund.
In addition, Mardi Gras represents slightly more than 1.6% of the city's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) when combining direct expenditures and a "brand value" estimate to the calculations, the researchers said. "A 12-day festival comprising such a significant component of a major metropolitan city's GDP is quite remarkable," they commented.
Spindt and Weiss said their report was compiled using economic data on Mardi Gras spending in the City of New Orleans exclusively, and is limited to actual expenditures obtained from out of town hotel visitors, local citizens, carnival krewe officials, krewe members and city government. Using this information, they placed the total direct economic impact and brand value of Mardi Gras on the New Orleans economy at approximately $322.2 million.
"Our economic impact numbers are likely understated," they added, "because they do not include incremental restaurant business, airport usage or any business fixed investment, and probably underestimates Mardi Gras related spending locally."
They noted that previous economic studies on Mardi Gras evaluated metro/regional data and used different data tabulation methodologies than their own.
A spokesman for the New Orleans Carnival Krewe Civic Fund said the organization anticipates producing future similar studies on Mardi Gras.
"We believe it's important for everyone to understand that Mardi Gras is not only the 'greatest free show on earth,' said spokesman John Charbonnet. "It's also a substantial revenue producer for the city and a significant part of the lifeblood of the community's economy."
The full study is available for download in pdf format.