September 28, 2006
To: The New Orleans CVB Clients, Customers and Meetings Industry Media
From: Stephen Perry, President and CEO
Re: Phase IV of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and Tourism Planning Opportunity
This week, officials from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center announced a temporary two to three year delay in the planned Phase IV expansion of the Center. The delay is nothing more than temporary, as Phase IV remains one of the centerpieces of the next phase of tourism growth and expansion in New Orleans and still has the unqualified support of the industry.
A top priority for hospitality industry officials remains the visitors and conventions coming next week, next month and next year and ensuring that the quality of their experience in the city continuously becomes enhanced and better than ever. This temporary delay could allow for the investment of resources in the short-term to make New Orleans even more attractive as a destination, rebuild and accelerate the quality of our appeal as a tourist destination, attract more visitors more quickly, and strengthen our brand, all the while laying the foundation for the construction of Phase IV.
Among the suggestions for the redirected funding are enhancements to the core of what has driven visitors to the city for generations – the French Quarter. Ideas include historic signage and additional lighting, upgrading and repair of sidewalks and curbs, and other amenities, as well as capital assistance toward the establishment of a state of the art trash removal and street cleaning system to be maintained by the city. Enhancements and new branding of such neighborhood areas as Faubourg Marigny, the Warehouse and Arts District and the Magazine Street corridor will also be examined.
All of those with interest in the New Orleans hospitality industry should look upon the slowdown of Phase IV as a positive, practical step that will ultimately allow us not only to expand the Convention Center, but to immediately address some other hospitality infrastructure needs critical to our industry today. All with one goal in mind … accelerate recovery and build back the visitor base greater than ever.