What's New in New Orleans' Hospitality Industry - February 2012


  • New Orleans is preparing for Fat Tuesday on February 21, 2012, but the city is already in celebration mode as the official kick-off of Carnival was January 6, the day of the Epiphany. For Mardi Gras 2011, New Orleans area hotels reported nearly sold-out numbers and crowds were estimated to reach approximately one million as revelers lined the streets for the two weeks of parades leading up to Mardi Gras day. According to a new study from the Carnival Krewe Civic Foundation, the economic value of the 2011 Mardi Gras season showed a total contribution to the New Orleans economy of $300.7 million. This season, New Orleans welcomes two new krewes to the Carnival line-up with the Krewe of Nyx and the Krewe of Freret. http://www.neworleanscvb.com/
  • March 31-April 2, New Orleans will host the NCAA Men's Final Four, offering basketball fans a series of events, including Bracket Town, the Big Dance Concert Series, youth clinics and more all leading up to championship game on April 2. The Final Four is set to generate $120-145 million in economic impact. www.ncaa.com/finalfour
  • In 2012, Louisiana celebrates 200 years of statehood as the US Navy and OpSail will bring a collection of vintage Tall Ships from around the world to New Orleans April 17-23 where the public will be invited to view the Tall Ships and Navy Ships. The historic USCG Barque Eagle will join the Guayas of Ecuador and the Gloria of Colombia and will dock alongside the Mississippi River at Woldenberg Park. http://www.opsail.org/
  • On January 28, 2012, The Saint Hotel officially opened its doors following a $45 million purchase and transformation. The Saint, located in the historic Audubon Building on Canal Street, includes 166 modern guest rooms; Sweet Olive, a restaurant by Chef Michael Stoltzfus; the Burgundy Bar and the Halo Rooftop Bar. The property reflects a contemporary spirit and look while staying true to New Orleans-inspired designs and traditions. http://www.thesainthotelneworleans.com/

  • Following a major renovation, the historic Joy Theater reopened the 10,000 square foot multipurpose complex at 1200 Canal Street in December 2011. The Joy officially opened in 1947 as a movie theater. Located across the street from the Joy on Canal Street, the Saenger Theater is currently undergoing a $51 million restoration, adding another key performance venue to New Orleans' theater district. http://www.thejoytheater.com/

  • According to The Wallstreet Journal's Marketwatch, the New Orleans region was the number one most improved market for business in the United States, rising 44 positions from 77th in 2010 to 33rd in 2011. According to a press release issued by Greater New Orleans Inc, the publication cites many reasons for New Orleans' rapid climb including a top ranking in long-term personal income growth and the area's ranking of 15th in economic output. www.gnoinc.org/news
  • In 2012, the well-known neighborhood Tremé will celebrate its 200th anniversary. This area gave rise to jazz and brass bands, incredible architecture, Mardi Gras Indians and several pioneers of the civil rights movement, and is now home to key cultural institutions like the New Orleans African American Museum, Backstreet Cultural Museum, St. Augustine Catholic Church, Armstrong Park and more. http://www.treme2012.com/
  • NOLA Motorsports Park is open but is in the final stages of construction with full operations planned for early spring 2012. The 640-acre facility houses several world-class driving venues: two road courses of more than 2.7 miles each, a 30-acre kart facility and an autocross pad. Located in Avondale, just 20 minutes from the central business district, the park is unique among major motorsports facilities and is designed as a multi-purpose events facility with motorsports activities. Food services will be provided by Chef Scott Boswell, proprietor of award-winning restaurants Stella! and Stanley. http://www.nolamotor.com/
  • The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell has announced a stellar line up for the 2012, seven-day festival. This year's performers include the Eagles, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Bon Iver, Jill Scott, Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Springsteen. Jazz Fest is a staple event in New Orleans' spring festival line up, attracting approximately 400,000 attendees each year and generating nearly $300 million in economic impact. This year's festival is April 27-29 and May 3-6. http://www.nojazzfest.com/
  • The Rock ‘n' Roll New Orleans Marathon & ½ Marathon benefiting the American Cancer Society has announced that Rockin' Dopsie Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters will headline the concert for the third annual event on March 4. The event welcomes more than 20,000 runners to the city. www.runrocknroll.competitor.com/new-orleans
  • The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, New Orleans Hornets and Irvin Mayfield's I Club have partnered to form "Inspired to Play," which will promote New Orleans music while enhancing the game night experience for Hornet's fans through an original Hornets "theme song" and halftime performances. www.nba.com/hornets/news/new_orleans_jazz_orchestra__2011_12_20.html
  • M.S. Rau Antiques is celebrating its centennial in March 2012 as one of the country's oldest and largest antiques, fine arts and estate jewelry dealers. Also taking place this year is the launch of Rau for Art Foundation, a non-for-profit program and art contest targeting high school art students in the 10th to 12th grades in local school districts. Besides promoting art appreciation, there is prize and scholarship money totaling $17,000 that will be awarded to winners and their high school art departments, and winners' artwork will be exhibited at M.S. Rau Antiques and Fine Arts in March. http://www.rauantiques.com/
  • Broadway Across America continues its commitment to New Orleans, announcing the 2012-2013 season at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Following the Lion King (March 14-April 15), the performances continue with Les Misérables (Oct. 30-Nov. 4), Mary Poppins (Dec. 18-23), Jersey Boys (Jan. 8-27, 2013), Flashdance (Feb. 26-March 3, 2013), Million Dollar Quartet (April 16-21, 2013) and Wicked (May 8-June 2, 2013). http://neworleans.broadway.com/
  • The historic Hotel Monteleone has revealed the name of its new restaurant and bar. Criollo Restaurant and Lounge will debut in March 2012 and will infuse traditional Creole flavors of French, Spanish, Italian and African with new spices to create dishes in the style it calls Louisiana Fusion. Additionally, the Monteleone celebrated the grand reopening of its famous Carousel Bar following a six month, multimillion dollar renovation, which included new windows, furniture and the addition of a second bar. http://www.hotelmonteleone.com/
  • Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning has officially opened Manning's New Orleans, a 210-seat restaurant featuring 30 flat screen TVs, a sports anchor desk and unique memorabilia in the city's famous Warehouse District. www.harrahsneworleans.com/casinos/harrahs-new-orleans/restaurants-dining/mannings-detail.html
  • Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar opened to the public on January 17 on historic St. Charles Ave. Superior Seafood's kitchen turns out a variety of French-infused favorites using fresh Louisiana seafood. The restaurant is complete with a balcony for use during New Orleans' Carnival season; patio for outdoor dining; full-service oyster bar and private dining space. http://www.superiorseafoodnola.com/
  • World-renowned chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto announced their partnership and the formation of Home on the Range: Folse Tramonto Restaurant Development, LLC, in which their first joint venture will be Restaurant R'evolution. The restaurant is scheduled to open in the Royal Sonesta Hotel in 2012 and will offer contemporary Creole cuisine. www.sonesta.com/RoyalNewOrleans/index.cfm?fa=restaurant3.home
  • The Louisiana SPCA has launched a new public art celebration. Paws on Parade raises awareness for animal welfare in our region, supports the art community, and beautifies our area. More than 45 sculptures, each with a unique design, will be displayed throughout the New Orleans metro area. Using the iconic symbol of New Orleans' favorite holiday, the Mardi Gras Bead Dog®, the parade will be rolling through September 2012. www.la-spca.org/pawsonparade

Kicking off the New Year, New Orleans hosted the 78th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl, a Saints home playoff game, several Hornets games and the BCS National Championship all within days of each other. This was a tremendous way for New Orleans to start 2012, bringing more than $400 million in economic impact to the city, marking sold out hotels during peak nights and bringing an influx of people to the area. Sports fans not only enjoyed a newly-renovated Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but also the city's 1,200 restaurants and many music clubs, creating an overall, one-of-a-kind visitor experience. In the upcoming months, the city looks forward to additional major sporting events, including:

SEC Basketball Championship - March 8-11, 2012

NCAA Men's Final Four Basketball Championship - March 31 & April 2, 2012

ArenaBowl XXV - Aug. 10, 2012

Super Bowl XLVII - Feb. 3, 2013

NCAA Women's Final Four - April 7 & 9, 2013

2012 Festivals

  • Zulu Lundi Gras Festival/Feb. 20
  • 25th Annual Lundi Gras at Spanish Plaza with Rex/Feb. 20
  • Mardi Gras Day/Feb. 21
  • Soul Fest/March 3-4
  • Earth Fest/March 17-18
  • Spring Fiesta/March 23-April 1
  • Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival/March 21-25
  • Congo Square/New World Rhythms Festival/March 24-25
  • Louisiana Oyster Jubilee/March 10
  • New Orleans Roadfood Festival/March 23-25
  • French Quarter Festival/April 12-15
  • Louisiana Bicentennial Celebration/April 17-23
  • New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Presented by Shell/April 27-May 6
  • Mid City Bayou Boogaloo/May 18-20
  • Asian Pacific American Society Festival/May 19
  • New Orleans Wine and Food Experience/May 22-26
  • Greek Festival/May 25-27
  • New Orleans Oyster Festival/June TBD
  • New Orleans Vieux-to-Do/June 8-10
  • New Orleans Pride Festival/June 21-24
  • FestiGals/June 22-24
  • ESSENCE Music Festival/July 6-8
  • San Fermin in Nueva Orleans/July 13-15
  • Tales of the Cocktail/July 25-29
  • COOLinary New Orleans/Aug. 1-31
  • Satchmo SummerFest/Aug. 2-5
  • Whitney White Linen Night/Aug. 4
  • Dirty Linen Night/Aug. 11
  • New Orleans Red Dress Run/Aug. 11
  • Southern Decadence Festival/Aug. 29-Sept. 3
  • New Orleans Seafood Festival/Sept. TBD
  • New Orleans Burlesque Festival/Sept. TBD
  • Gretna Heritage Festival/Oct. TBD
  • Art for Arts' Sake/Oct. 6
  • Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival/Oct. 12-14
  • Celebracion Latina/Oct. 13
  • New Orleans on Tap/Oct. TBD
  • New Orleans Film Festival/Oct. TBD
  • Voodoo Music Experience/Oct. 26-28
  • Louisiana Swamp Festival/Nov. 3-4
  • New Orleans Fringe Festival/Nov. TBD
  • Words and Music Literary Festival/Nov. TBD
  • Oak Street Poboy Festival/Nov. TBD
  • Treme Creole Gumbo Festival/Dec. 8
  • Christmas New Orleans Style/December

Festival Attendance



Mardi Gras

1 million +

1 million

French Quarter Festival



Jazz and Heritage Festival



New Orleans Wine & Food Experience



ESSENCE Music Fest



Tales of the Cocktail



Satchmo SummerFest



Southern Decadence Festival



Voodoo Music Experience


100,000 +

Meetings and Conventions

  • The Great Hall of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center debuts in January 2013. The Convention Center will feature a 60,300 square foot divisible Great Hall, 25,400 square foot multi-use pre-function space, and includes hotel-like appointments throughout. The impressive 1 million square foot Center is now more attractive than ever to groups large and small. Additional features of note will include a 4,660 square foot junior ballroom, complete with a 3,420 square foot rooftop terrace, a 980 square foot indoor balcony and a 5,700 square foot executive club lounge.

Meetings (3,000 or more in attendance) in 2012 include:

  • Professional Photographers of America/Jan. 15-17        
  • SAP Global Marketing, Inc./Jan. 17-20
  • American Rental Association/Feb. 5-8
  • UBM LLC (Formerly United Business Media)/Feb. 14-17          
  • Vacuum & Sewing Dealers Association/Feb. 27-29
  • American Pharmacists Association/March 9-12
  • Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses/March 24-29      
  • New Orleans Dental Conference/April 12-14
  • American College of Physicians/April 17-21       
  • American Academy of Neurology           /April 21-28     
  • Oncology Nursing Society/May 3-6
  • Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association/May 7-9
  • American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine/May 30-June 1
  • International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association/June 10-12
  • Southern Baptist Convention/June 19-20
  • National Association of Black Journalists/June 20-24      
  • Kiwanis International/June 28-July 1
  • Evangelical Free Church of America/July 1-6
  • Southern Regional Education Board/July 10-13
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/July 18-22
  • National Medical Association/July 28-Aug. 1      
  • US Department Of Education/July 31-Aug. 2    
  • Pentecostal Churches of the Apostolic Faith/Aug. 3-8    
  • Pentecostal Assemblies of the World/Aug. 5-11
  • Louisiana Restaurant Association/Aug. 11-13
  • Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles/Mystic Shrine/Aug. 17-23
  • American Political Science Association/Aug. 30-Sept. 2
  • AARP/Sept. 20-22
  • Water Environment Federation/Sept. 29-Oct. 3
  • International Auto Body Congress and Expo/Oct. 10-13
  • Society for Neuroscience/Oct. 13-17      
  • American Academy of Pediatrics/Oct. 20-23
  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons/Oct. 26-30
  • EMS Expo, Inc./Oct. 29-Nov. 2
  • International Pool Spa Patio Expo/Nov. 6-8
  • American Association for Respiratory Care/Nov. 10-13
  • American Assn for the Advancement of Slavic Studies/Nov. 15-18
  • Diversified Business Communications/Dec. 5-7


  • In total, $300 million worth of modernization projects are underway at New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport. Following the completion of Concourse D, the Airport is continuing to focus on the new consolidated rental car facility, which will greatly increase capacity to accommodate current needs and anticipated growth over the next 15 years, increasing capacity from 800 cars to approximately 1,800 cars in a three-story structure, which will include rental car company counters and offices.Additional airport upgrades include free WiFi, refurbished restrooms, a new aircraft rescue and fire fighting station and plans for a storm-proof power and water facility.

Additional flights in 2012 include:

  • Southwest Airlines (Additional direct flight to Baltimore-Washington International) beginning February 2012
  • Southwest Airlines (Additional direct flight to Chicago-Midway) beginning February 2012
  • Southwest Airlines (Additional departure to Las Vegas) beginning February 2012
  • Delta Airlines (New non-stop destination - one daily departure to New York JFK) beginning June 2012



  • January-June 2011: 4.8 million visitors/$3.1 billion
  • 2010: 8.3 million visitors/$5.3 billion (highest visitor spending in city's history)
  • 2009: 7.5 million visitors/$4.2 billion visitor spending
  • 2008: 7.6 million/$5.1 billion
  • 2007: 7.1 million/$4.8 billion
  • 2006:  3.7 million/$2.8 billion
  • 2005: July-December  stats not available
  • 2005: January-June: 5.3 million/$2.6 billion
  • 2004: 10.1 million/$4.9 billion
  • 2003: 8.5 million/$4.5 billion
  • Taxes: $250-300 million in tax revenues ... more than any other business sector
  • Economic impact of tourism: $5 billion
  • Employment: Nearly 74,000
  • Hotels: 263 and 37,100 hotel rooms
  • Restaurants: 1,238 (www.nomenu.com)
  • Airport: As of  January 2012; 14,113 average daily seats and 116 average daily departures serving 37 non-stop destinations

About the New Orleans CVB

The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is a nationally accredited, 1,000-member destination marketing organization and the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. We help create $5 billion in new capital each year-more than any other business sector-by attracting millions of visitors, special events and conventions. The CVB and its members persuade thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose New Orleans through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services at our New Orleans headquarters and offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and four countries. Consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country, the New Orleans CVB celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010. For more information, please visit www.neworleanscvb.com.

Media Contact
Jenn Lotz
jlotz@neworleanscvb.com                                                           # # #