POST KATRINA - INTERNATIONAL VISITORS ARE ONCE AGAIN CHOOSING NEW ORLEANS AS A SHOPPING DESTINATION
From January through June of 2010, the Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Program recorded over $15 million in eligible purchases made by international visitors shopping in Louisiana. This data indicates an increase of over $2 million when compared to January through June of 2004, the year before Hurricane Katrina. 2009 also showed a very strong growth in international shoppers, when spending increased from $16 million in 2008 to $19 million in 2009.
The Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Program tracks the number of international visitors serviced, as well as the dollar amount spent on tax-free shopping purchases. Visitors receive a sales tax refund on shopping they do throughout the state at participating merchants, however, not on services used such as hotel stay, car rental, restaurants etc.
An economic impact study conducted by U.N.O in 2008 concluded that the overall impact of the Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Program was $45.1 million in 2007.
Not to be confused with “duty free” shops at international departure terminals in airports, “Louisiana Tax Free Shopping” is available at well known retail stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Gucci, The Gap, Sears, Wal-Mart, Coach, and many more. Tax Free members also include manufacturer outlets, other department stores, jewelry stores, art and antique dealers, computer and electrical appliance stores, as well as hundreds of smaller specialty shops throughout the state.
Since 1989, the Louisiana Tax Free Shopping Program has serviced over 600,000 international visitors and recorded over $500 million in international tax-free sales. The LTFS Program allows international tourists the opportunity to shop at over 800 stores throughout the state and apply for a tax refund IN CASH at any of our five refund centers.
After suffering setbacks from the lack of tourism following Hurricane Katrina, LTFS has once again hit its stride under the leadership of Executive Director Denise Thevenot, who stated, “We are finally seeing our Latin American tourists return to Louisiana to shop. Since January, Brazil posted the highest number of visitors utilizing the program, spending $2.2 million on tax-free shopping sales.”