Tourism Officials Excited to Welcome Essence Fest Crowds

NEW ORLEANS — According to New Orleans & Company’s hotel occupancy projections, the 2023 Essence Fest will be a big economic boost for the city, even if it doesn’t draw quite as big of a crowd as it did the year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 1100-member destination marketing organization is projecting the city’s downtown hotels will be roughly 88% full this Saturday night (July 1) and 80% full on Sunday. The Saturday figure may turn out to be slightly lower than last year’s number (nearly 90%) but the Sunday figure is trending three percentage points higher than last year. Actual figures could vary and will be reported after the fact.

In 2019, the pre-pandemic year, the Saturday night figure was 97 percent and the Sunday night was 86, so the number of visitors may still be down from pre-pandemic years, but hospitality boosters are as bullish about the event as ever.

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“Essence Festival of Culture is important to New Orleans not only economically, but culturally, and it sends a powerful message to the world that New Orleans is built to host events of this caliber,” said Kelly Schulz, senior vice president, communications and public relations of New Orleans & Company.

This year’s music headliners include Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and Megan Thee Stallion. There will be plenty of other concerts along with free workshops, vendor exhibits and celebrity meet-and-greets. Vice President Kamala Harris will participate in two events, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will discuss President Joe Biden’s legislative accomplishments.

Courtesy of New Orleans & Company

Schulz says the event is a great showcase for the city’s “spectacular hospitality” and venues such as the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the Caesars Superdome, which are both within walking distance to 26,000 hotel rooms, the French Quarter and some of the world’s best restaurants.

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“In addition to hundreds of thousands of visitors, Essence draws major celebrities, journalists, corporate sponsors and dignitaries, even the vice president of the United States,” said Schulz. “New Orleans & Company and our partners are honored to host the 29th annual Essence Festival and are looking forward to the 30th anniversary in 2024.”



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