For three weeks in February each year, Mardi Gras in Mobile brings a powerful quarter-of-a-billion-dollar economic windfall to the Port City. The pageantry and parade celebration provides entertainment for the community and tourists, coupled with financial support for the city.
In 2004, the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau commissioned an outside, independent economic study through Dr. Samuel Addy and Ahmad Ijaz of the University of Alabama. This study found more than $227 million was directly spent in the Mobile and Baldwin counties during the 2004 carnival season. This amounts to 6.6% of the overall $6.7 billion tourism economic impact in the state of Alabama. The study used a multiplier that factored in goods produced, jobs provided, services rendered, and the effects of direct spending on tax revenue. The overall economic impact realized from Mardi Gras is a whopping $408.6 million, including $49.4 million in taxes - (income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes). Of the tax revenue, the state garners $28.6 million and Mobile and Balwdin county region $20.9 million.
The study also yielded there are over 12,811 jobs in a two county region – Mobile and Baldwin counties - directly related to servicing Mardi Gras. In addition to Mardi Gras being a community celebration, it also plays a large role in employment opportunities within the area. An estimated 850,000 people attend parades, parties and other events associated with carnival festivities. Mardi Gras is a celebration put on by the people for the people. Members of individual societies fund their own participation. Of the $227 million in direct carnival spending noted above, $33 million is spent by members of Mardi Gras organizations and the other $194 million by parade viewers. During the 2008 Mardi Gras season, The Press Register conducted its own economic study.