SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau on Tuesday released its numbers for 2020, and the conclusion isn’t pretty – it’s estimated area businesses and attractions took a hit of somewhere around $21 Million due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But it could have been even worse, had the first two months of 2020 not been so successful. According to SBCTB President Stacy Brown, the Bureau’s 2020 Mardi Gras campaign was “wildly successful,” attracting thousands and thousands to the area to enjoy the Mardi Gras parades, along with growing sports tourism.
Brown said before the shutdowns began, “sporting events like the 2020 Showtime Boxing Match in January and LHSAA High School Wresting State Championships in February” brought many visitors to the area.
In addition, Brown said the bureau was building a strong presence the meetings market and working on bids.
But by the end of February, things began to fall apart – not just locally, but all over the world. It’s estimated the worldwide tourism industry lost approximately $1 trillion in economic impact and more than 100 million jobs worldwide, and the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis is continuing to devastate tourism, one of the world’s largest industries
Locally, shuttered casinos, hotels and restaurants, and festivals, some of which in previous years attracted people from all over the country, were prohibited. From March to December 2020, in Shreveport-Bossier, some 72 meetings and 59 sports events cancelled.
However, the Shreveport Bossier Sports Commission remained a bright spot, with 2020 sports events bookings at 114, up 67% from 2019’s 76 events; hotel rooms booked for those events up 42% over the previous year, up from 2019’s 28,894 to 020’s 39,500; and actual visitors for 2020’s sports events tallied 244,886, up 42% from 2019’s 171,962.
But other parts of the local tourism business suffered.
Hotels suffered the most, with group bookings down 45%, from 326 in 2019 to 146 in 2020; room bookings were down 40%, from 70,779 in 2019 to 42,276 in 2020; and actual people staying in hotels, “heads on beds,” down 68% from 2019, which registered 227,301 people to 2020 when only 71,071 people took advantage of Shreveport and Bossier’s many hotels.
Even the Tourist Bureau’s popular website took a hit – with the 483,389 sessions in 2020 31% less than 2019’s 695,682; and 2020’s 349,451 users were down 39% from 2019’s 573,085 users. Even 2020 pageviews slipped 30%, from 1,189,136 in 2019 to 832,999 in 2020.
But the Tourist Bureau didn’t take it lying down and in addition to the Sports Commission’s sales team bringing in sporting events, the Bureau’s sales team launched “Press Play” in Shreveport-Bossier campaign, a largely digital marketing campaign aimed at regional visitors, and hosted the Meeting Planners-International Dallas Chapter for the first time ever.
And though the numbers were down, from May to July and September to December, the Press Play campaign generated 30,600 hotel rooms, representing about $4.1 million in hotel revenue.
To view the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau’s annual report, click here. For more information about scheduling meetings, hosting events, or planning leisure travels in Caddo or Bossier Parishes, visit www.Shreveport-Bossier.org.