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updated 9/9/2005 11:00:48 AM ET 2005-09-09T15:00:48

Tourist-dependent industries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are losing $50 million a day in revenue because of Hurricane Katrina, which the main U.S. travel industry body has declared the worst natural disaster to hit the nation's travel sectors.

The Travel Industry Association of America said the effects of Katrina would cut heavily into the revenues generated by the region's tourism-related businesses. Last year, the area generated an estimated $18.3 billion. TIA estimates that 260,000 jobs in the Gulf coast rely on tourism.

"Tourism in the region tends to be concentrated along the coast, so the travel industry will be disproportionately affected," said Allen Kay, of the TIA.

More than 10 million visitors spent nearly $5 billion last year in New Orleans alone. The city's leisure and hospitality sector employed 80,000 people, according to the Hospitality Research Center at the University of New Orleans.

New Orleans' annual festivals and sports events have been a big draw for tourists. The Mardi Gras festival brought in about $220 million in 2003, not including business from 1.1 million day visitors, according to the New Orleans Convention Visitors Bureau. The New Orleans Jazz Festival pulled in $250 million in business in 2003, as did the Sugar Bowl football game last year.

New Orleans, one of the top 10 U.S. cities for business conventions, will be hit hard by cancellations in the period to Dec. 1. In September and October 2005, nearly 120 conventions had been scheduled, which would have brought about 226,000 attendees to town.

The city's cruise industry had been flourishing, especially as big liners sought ports beyond Miami. About $37 million of investment was slated for New Orleans' cruise terminal, scheduled to open late next year.

New Orleans had forecast that 1m cruise passengers would visit the city next year, up from 80,000 in 1993. New Orleans ranked ninth in the U.S. for number of embarking passengers, according to Cruise Lines International Association.

With the city unable to serve as a home port, big cruise operators have moved ships to other locations. Carnival, the largest cruise operator, said it would relocate at least one ship to Galveston, Texas.

On Sept. 15, TIA, the Travel Tourism Coalition and the Travel Business Roundtable will launch a free employment website for tourism workers displaced by Katrina.

© The Financial Times Ltd 2013. "FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of the Financial Times.

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