Local business owners anticipating economic boost from riverboats
BATON ROUGE- The American Queen sits right at this docking site on the Mississippi River. It's on an eight-day cruise, bringing people from all over the world on its voyage from Memphis, Tennessee to New Orleans.
"After Katrina, basically all riverboats traffic stopped for several years," said Davis Rhorer, the Executive Director for the Downtown Development District.
The cruise line business resumed in 2012. Fast forward to today, more people are starting to hop on board.
"We had riverboats, but we never had this many before," Rhorer said.
Based on the 2019 Riverboat schedule, there will be 109 riverboat dockings in the city.
"We did see this as a win-win for Baton Rouge because of the economic impact that it brought," said Karron Alford, Director of Marketing and Technology for Visit Baton Rouge.
There are more than 400 passengers aboard the American Queen. That means you have 400 more people touring all over different parts of the city, whether it be dining in or shopping.
"We knew that during slow periods, when these boats were docked, that people would go into the local attractions and the Museums," Alford said.
And for the business, this means one thing: an economic win. This what the LSU's Museum of Arts Shopping Center is experiencing now.
"We estimate about 15 percent of our sales are now coming from the riverboat. Visitors are tourists and about 30 percent of the visitors to the museum upstairs, " Executive Director Daniel Stetson said.
Stetson says the riverboats in the area makes a big difference.
"There was one month when they were off for a while doing repairs, we saw a dramatic decline actually in our store sales," Stetson said.
In 2018, a total of 18,000 people participated in riverboat cruises. They expect that number to rise this year.
For 2020, there are already two dockings added to the schedule.