Media Contacts:
Kelly Schulz or Mary Beth Romig
New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau
504-566-5019 /

Sarah Kissko Hersh
Weber Shandwick

Recent mischaracterizations of travel and meetings prompts New Orleans and 40 other cities nationwide to defend the importance of the hospitality industry to economies, jobs and quality of life in a series of first-time rallies

NEW ORLEANS – May 13, 2009 – Creating a celebratory New Orleans scene reminiscent of Mardi Gras, more than 1,000 employees of the hospitality community, elected officials, city leaders, musicians and visitors paraded down Canal Street during a half-hour rally to officially declare May 12th THE POWER OF TOURISM IN NEW ORLEANS DAY. This collaborative effort demonstrates the city’s celebration of its hospitality employees, cultural heritage and the significant impact tourism has on New Orleans’ economy.

Tourism is the most important economic driver in New Orleans, employing 78,000 people and generating billions of dollars annually. One in every 12 people in Louisiana is employed as a result of the tourism industry.

The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) was able to gather frontline workers such as chefs, bellhops and housekeepers to rally with city leaders in recognition of National Travel and Tourism Week sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association. Joining 40 other U.S. cities, together they proclaimed the importance of tourism.

New Orleans’ unique rally featured musicians, Mardi Gras Indians, floats, second line umbrellas and colorful signs proclaiming, “I am the Face of Travel! ** Tourism Matters! ** Meetings Mean Business! **and Travel Means Jobs.”

The rally culminated in a press conference at Spanish Plaza on the riverfront and luncheon and business expo at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, where Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans CVB, and other leaders discussed the importance of travel to the city’s brand, economy, job creation, cultural heritage and an enhanced quality of life for every New Orleans citizen.

Travel and tourism is one of America’s largest industries, with $740 billion in direct travel expenditures. Cities and towns across the country, particularly New Orleans, rely on the wages and taxes generated by business and leisure visitors. But, the industry is facing tough times.

Recent mischaracterizations in the media of meetings and events travel, combined with an already struggling economy, are having serious effects on American workers and communities that rely on tax revenue that funds public schools, police and fire departments and other essential services.

So far in 2009, New Orleans’ hospitality industry has experienced many successes, such as:

· Hosting the 2009 Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Annual Meeting, which was cited by meeting professionals as one of the best PCMA Annual Meetings ever. According to the PCMA Convening Leaders Annual Meeting Survey, 98 percent of respondents indicated that they value the overall New Orleans experience.

· The city achieved pre-Katrina levels of Mardi Gras attendance, with nearly one million revelers.

· According to festival organizers, the 2009 Jazz and Heritage Festival welcomed more than 400,000 people, the largest crowd since Katrina.

· The 2009 French Quarter Festival welcomed 441,000 attendees, a continual increase in visitors since 2005.

· For the first time in history, New Orleans restaurant count has reached 1,000 (source

The number of visitors to New Orleans increased from 7.1 million in 2007 to 7.6 million in 2008, and spending levels increased from $4.8 billion in 2007 to $5.1 billion in 2008, according to the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center.

** B-roll footage and photographs from the May 12 rally are available to media upon request
**To view photos from the day, please click here.