According to the most recent statistics, under 400,000 people live in Orleans Parish. In a regular year, around 19 million people come to visit us. These tourists spend a total of close to $10B. This reportedly contributes a massive 40% of the city’s annual tax revenue.
Is having a tourist-dependent economy good for us? Or bad for us? Well, that depends who you ask.
Many people who work in hospitality point out that their jobs are poorly-paid, with few if any benefits. There’s no job security. And they claim that a tourist-based economy traps them – and the city – in a cycle of poverty that does nothing but perpetuate a glaring wealth gap.
On the other hand, people in organizations that promote New Orleans tourism – whose incomes are typically substantially larger than hospitality workers – claim tourism is vital. They say that without tourism our individual taxes would have to increase by thousands of dollars a year, and our entire city economy would be strained to the point of collapse.
Which side of this argument is true? Petr Ricchiuti puts that question to Dr. Andrew Ward.
Dr. Ward is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Development at Tulane University, and he specializes in a branch of practical study called Sustainable Tourism.
In 2018 we introduced you to Allison Albert Ward. At that time, Allison had quit her job as an accountant and founded a company called Pet Krewe, making costumes for pets. That has turned out to be a good move. Today, Pet Krewe’s costumes are sold in 600 independent stores and several mass retailers in the United States. They’re also sold internationally. Outside of China, Pet Krewe is the biggest pet costume company in the world.
Even after achieving world domination, Pet Krewe is not slowing down. They’ve formed partnerships with Hasbro, Sesame Street, and others, and their business continues to grow by hundreds of percent a year.
If you’re a regular listener to Out to Lunch you might have noticed that on each show we usually invite guests who have something in common. So, you might be wondering what the link could possibly be between sustainable tourism and pet costumes. Well, there is one. Marriage. Andrew Ward and Allison Albert Ward are married. To each other. Unless you happen to be friends with them and hang out with Andrew and Allison Albert Ward, it’s unlikely you’ve heard a discussion about pet costumes and sustainable tourism anywhere else recently. Or ever.
In the days before social media, traditional media outlets bolstered their reputation as information sources by scooping each other – getting a story first and owning it. These stories were billed as “exclusive,” meaning it was content you could get from one place and one place only. Today, information spreads around the world in moments. We’re all instantly reading and hearing versions of the same content. Except, that is, for this conversation. You won’t hear anything quite like this, anywhere.
Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in theNOLA Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur. And check out Allison’s Albert Ward’s first appearance on Out to Lunch.