New Orleans looks to tourism 2 years on

As the U.S. prepares to commemorate the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29th, the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (New Orleans CVB) is reflecting on the extraordinary progress achieved in the past two years Tourism is New Orleans’ number one industry and largest employer, as well as a critical force in rebuilding the areas of the city that still are in recovery.

The resurgence of the tourism industry began in early 2006 with a strong return of Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center re-opening after a multi-million-dollar renovation and the first citywide convention-the American Library Association. Progress continued in the fall with the return of cruise ships, many successful meetings including the National Association of Realtors(R), and the reopening of the Louisiana Superdome, which is now considered one of the most memorable nights in NFL history.

In 2007 alone, New Orleans has safely and successfully hosted more than one million visitors for ESSENCE Music Festival, Mardi Gras, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, French Quarter Festival, major sporting events, cultural festivals, corporate meetings, large citywide conventions such as the American College of Cardiology, Risk & Insurance Management Society and more.

Today, airlines are adding new flights to Louis Armstrong International Airport; the city has one of the freshest hotel products in the country; the French Quarter is cleaner than it has been in decades and we continue to receive extremely positive testimonials from visitors. Major corporations such as Carnival Cruise Lines, Southwest Airlines and others are investing in New Orleans’ hospitality industry; new restaurants are opening; festivals are enjoying record-breaking attendance; armies of college students and volunteers are traveling to the city to participate in life-changing “voluntourism” projects; and the New Orleans CVB is aggressively booking leisure and convention business for the future.

“The rich New Orleans cultural experience that has existed for hundreds of years is alive and well,” said Stephen Perry, president & CEO of the New Orleans CVB. “In the coming weeks, as areas of the recovery are scrutinized, and the focus may be on more negative than positive stories, we want to remind everyone that New Orleans also is a city where soul PROVED waterproof ... a place of hope, resilience and life. On behalf of the entire hospitality community of New Orleans, we extend a profound thank you to every individual visitor, travel professional, volunteer, executive, meeting professional, meeting attendee, exhibitor, organization, corporation and association that has supported us and participated in the rebirth of one of the greatest destinations in the world.”