Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser was on the third hour of Good Morning America on Tuesday to discuss how the state would be celebrating Mardi Gras this year and encouraging tourists to return to the Gulf Coast.
Nungesser says that Mardi Gras has about a $1 billion impact on the state each year. That impact was not being felt in 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In New Orleans, Nungesser said that hotel bookings were down to 18 percent for the Mardi Gras holiday due to strict closures which included bars across the city.
"We're going to climb out of this and be bigger than ever," Nungesser said. "Next year's Mardi Gras, you'll want to be here."
To make up for the cancellations, cities in the New Orleans area and across the state have decorated homes and businesses for a socially distanced celebration.
Nungesser says that besides Mardi Gras, the tourism industry is marketing "stay"cations and promoting local businesses and attractions to the state's 4 million residents before opening the door to outside tourists.
53.2 million people visited Louisiana last year.
Nungesser, when asked about his op-ed with Michigan's Lieutenant Governor on COVID-19 relief, said the goal is to get money into the hands of the people, mainly the hospitality industry.
"We see so many people suffering," he said. "Lieutenant governors have worked together across the aisle to help push Congress to move quickly to get that money into the hands of the people who need it most."
Over a half a million people have been vaccinated in Louisiana and Nungesser says the the trend of wearing masks has caught on and is helping to reduce COVID-19 cases.
At the close of the interview, Nungesser invited GMA3 co-anchors Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes to New Orleans next year to participate in a New Orleans Mardi Gras.
"Y'all can come down and ride on the float with me next year," he said. "You're invited."
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