August 28, 2009

Tourism bounces back in New Orleans

Tourism officials in New Orleans say the city is attracting visitors this year despite the recession and is bouncing back from 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

The Visitors Bureau said about 1 million people came to the city for Mardi Gras, about the same number as before the hurricane, USA Today reports. New Orleans was the only city among the top 25 tourist destinations in the United States to report better hotel occupancy this year than last.

In 2004, the year before Katrina slammed into the city, there were a record 10.1 million visitors. In 2006, the year after the hurricane, only 3.7 million arrived, which more than doubled to 7.6 million by 2008.

The tourism industry is a bright spot, said Kelly Schulz, visitors bureau vice president of communications.

Officials say the city has been hit by the AIG effect, with companies reluctant to hold conventions in a city nicknamed The Big Easy and famous for its night life. Schulz said some companies have dealt with that by scheduling time for convention-goers to volunteer in rebuilding efforts.