San Francisco—The American Academy of Ophthalmology has reaffirmed its Annual Meeting will return to New Orleans in 2007. The Academy’s Board of Trustees voted in October to demonstrate its commitment to the rebuilding efforts of New Orleans, which in 2007 will host the Academy and its more than 25,000 attendees for the fourth time in 10 years.

“Hosting the meeting in New Orleans speaks volumes to our faith as an organization in the city and people of New Orleans who have treated us so well and so graciously in the past,” said Susan H. Day, MD, president of the Academy. “The spirit and hospitality of the Big Easy have contributed to many great meetings. It is our hope that having our event in New Orleans again will help in the ongoing efforts to rebuild this wonderful, historic city.”

The Academy originally selected New Orleans as the 2007 host several years ago, but after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, felt it necessary to reevaluate if returning to the city would be in the best interest of the Academy. The 2007 Annual Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10 to 13, 2007.

“With the short time frame and the limitations that are placed on the Academy due to the meeting’s size, the Board felt that it had few alternatives to moving the meeting from New Orleans,” explained Edward J. Holland, MD, board member and secretary for the annual meeting. “To move the meeting only two years out leaves little time for planning, including securing adequate hotel space for attendees. At the same time the Board recognizes that New Orleans has always been one of the most ideal cities for us to hold our Annual Meeting because it is centrally located and appeals to both our U.S. and international members.”

"The partnership between the American Academy of Ophthalmology and New Orleans has always been a strong one, but we recognize that very serious discussion and deliberation was necessary on the part of the Academy’s leadership to make the decision to remain in New Orleans for the 2007 Annual Meeting," said Stephen Perry, president of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The clean-up effort and rebuilding plans are already well underway in Louisiana, and according to the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, citywide conventions will resume on April 1, 2006.

"The progress in the last few weeks is amazing as the city rebuilds,” Perry added. “The support of the Academy and its members for New Orleans and its citizens matters to us a great deal. We will be ready to create the first-class experience that ophthalmology expects from New Orleans."

Most of the French Quarter, where many meeting attendees stay, was spared by the hurricane. As of late October, many of the hotels have reopened, and more than 500 restaurants have been inspected and approved to reopen. New Orleans is also planning a complete remodeling of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, which will be ready by spring 2006, a full 18 months before the Academy meeting, according to the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.