What's New in New Orleans' Hospitality Industry - February/March 2013


  • New Orleans will host the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Final Four for the third time on April 7 and 9 at the New Orleans Arena. An all-around fan experience, the events begin on Friday, April 5 and continue until the championship game on Tuesday, April 9. The Final Four will feature Tourney Town, complete with basketball activities, sport interactives, pep rallies, live music, entertainment, and a chance to meet basketball greats and other celebrities. The Tourney Town, adjacent to the New Orleans Arena, will be the center of Final Four activity between games, complete with youth clinics, a performance by Taio Cruz, a pep rally, and tours. Fans will even have a chance to watch the teams practice for the big games at the New Orleans Arena on Saturday, April 6. To purchase tickets for the games, visit the NCAA's Final Four website: www.ncaa.com/womensfinalfourtickets
  • WWE recently announced they will call the Mercedes-Benz Superdome home for WrestleMania30, April 6, 2014. WrestleMania is more than just a one day event, it's a week-long celebration. In addition to WrestleMania XXX, other activities will include: WrestleMania Axxess - WWE's four-day interactive fan festival at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Monday Night Raw®, WrestleMania Reading Challenge Finals, Be a STARTM anti-bullying rallies, hospital visits and other pro-social activities designed to give back to the host community. WrestleMania 30 is predicted to bring more than 125,000 people to the city. www.wwe.com/worldwide
  • Super Bowl XLVII took place in New Orleans on Sunday, February 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This was the first time since 2002 that the city held a Super Bowl, and the tenth time in the city's history, tying it with Miami for hosting most often. The week leading up to the Super Bowl featured events such as the NFL Experience, the Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard, a live concert series, and the arrival of the Roman Numerals in Woldenberg Park. More than 5,000 credentialed media set up both in Jackson Square and at the Media Center in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to cover Super Bowl events and report from press conferences, such as those of Beyonce, Drew Brees, Steve Gleason and Commissioner Roger Goodell. To prepare for this prestigious event New Orleans made $13 million in city-wide improvements, combined with $336 million investment in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, $350 million in improvements to the Louis Armstrong International Airport and a $1.2 million renovation of the Convention Center. Coinciding with the Mardi Gras season, the Super Bowl was expected to have an economic impact of $432 million. It was the "greenest" game in Super Bowl history. The New Orleans Host Committee's (NOHC) Environmental Committee worked tirelessly for more than two years to implement a variety of environmental initiatives designed to "green" the game, the fans and the community of New Orleans. www.neworleanscvb.com/thebiggame 
  • Approximately one million people experienced Mardi Gras 2013, many of which had the opportunity to participate in Super Bowl XLVII, as the Carnival season has coincided with Super Bowl festivities. To accommodate Super Bowl crowds, parade schedules were moved to accommodate the game between the two weeks of festivities. Parades following the Super Bowl include Muses, Hermes, d'Etat, Endymion, and Bacchus as well as the Lundi and Mardi Gras day celebrations. www.mardigrasguide.com
  • In January 2013, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center debuted its renovations, which include a new entrance and a new Great Hall, Additional features include a 60,300-square-foot column-free ballroom, a 4,000-square-foot meeting room and the new pedestrian plaza and outdoor terrace, which overlooks a jumbo, high-definition, customizable video display board. www.neworleansgreathall.com
  • The new Loyola Streetcar Line is running from the Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street along Loyola Avenue. The $45 million line is about a mile and a half long and includes stops near the Mercedez-Benz Superdome. The project is expected to attract new investment along Loyola Avenue. www.norta.com/_meta/files/Streetcar_expansion/RTA-Loyola-Streetcar-Project.pdf
  • New Orleans ranks third for Sexiest Cities 2013 by Orbitz.com, as well as the fifth Top Destination for Valentine's Day/Presidents Day Weekend. When asked what makes a city sexy, respondents are equally enthralled with the location/scenery (32 percent) and its personality as represented by architecture and quaint neighborhoods (32 percent). Other stimulating factors declaring a city's sexiness include its culture (13 percent ), the people (11 percent) and nightlife (nine percent). http://www.neworleanscvb.com/articles/index.cfm?action=view&articleID=7663&menuID=1602
  • The relationship between Louisiana and France continues to strengthen as the new Louisiana-France Accords fosters partnerships for quality education in the field of immersion schools, professional training and university exchange. Louisiana is the only State in the United States with which France has such a framework agreement ranging from cooperation in language to education, culture and business relations. www.consulfrance-nouvelleorleans.org
  • The Color Run, the single largest event series in the nation, returned to New Orleans on February 9, 2013 for Mardi Gras. The Color Run's goal is to bring the community together to create a five-kilometer canvas of color in which thousands of participants dressed in white are doused in different colors at each kilometer. The 5k estimated more than 30,000 participants. www.thecolorrun.com
  • The 5th Annual Hogs for the Cause, March 22-23, 2013, is relocating to the festival grounds at City Park to accommodate the growing number of attendees and the anticipated 80 teams of BBQ competitors. This fundraising festival features a pork BBQ cook-off and live music, with a overall purpose of providing aid and relief for families with a child being treated for pediatric brain cancer. www.hogsforthecause.org
  • The National World War II Museum opened the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center on January 13, 2013. This $35 million structure showcases the military weaponry and industrial requirements undertaken during the second World War, and was designed to accommodate six airplanes used in WWII. In addition to the machinery on display, many personal war stories are highlighted within the pavilion through interactive exhibits. www.nationalww2museum.org/expansion/us-freedom-pavilion-boeing-center.html
  • Construction on two hospitals in one area with a combined two million square feet under construction, is coming together in the BioDistrict New Orleans. The Veterans Hospital will open in the first quarter of 2015 and serve a four-state area as the largest and most advanced VA hospital in the US, and the University Medical Center will open in the fall of 2014 to serve LSU, Tulane, and Xavier as a teaching hospital. Biodistrict plans call for the creation of 34,000 jobs, building a strong bioscience industry in New Orleans. www.biodistrictneworleans.org
  • In January, Fodor's editors announced that New Orleans is in their Top 25 Places to Go in 2013 list. The editors mentioned festivals and the booming cocktail scene as contributing reasons New Orleans is a top affordable escape. www.fodors.com/go-list/2013/new-orleans
  • Based on the family-friendly activities all around the city, ABC Travel Guides for Kids placed New Orleans in their list of Top Seven US Family Destinations for 2013. ABC Travel Guides for Kids is the premier producer and publisher of travel guides specifically designed for kids. www.kidstravelguides.com
  • For the second year in a row, Southern Living named New Orleans as one of the "Tastiest Towns in the South." Southern Living readers now have the chance to select who is named the overall Tastiest Town by voting online at www.southernliving.com/travel/souths-tastiest-towns-00417000076768/?iid=magazine-january-2012-Tasty. Polls are open until February 28, 2013.
  • Haydel's Bakery announced the release of "The Amazing Adventure of Mardi Gras Bead Dog", the newest book from local children's author Cornell P. Landry and illustrator Sean Gautreaux. The book is based on Haydel's own Mardi Gras Bead Dog, and is sold at several local retailers. www.haydelbakery.com/site.php?pageID=300&newsID=5
  • The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival announced the music lineup for the 2013 Festival scheduled for April 26-28 and May 2-5. The lineup includes Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, The Black Keys, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Daryl Hall and John Oates, and others. The festival is growing each year, with 2012's attendance reaching more than 450,000 people. www.jazzandheritage.org/
  • The Young Leadership Council New Orleans City Council President Stacy Head announced the 14th Annual YLC Wednesday at the Square line-up. Starting March 6, the 12-week concert series will run every Wednesday evening in Lafayette Square from 5-8 p.m. through May 22. This season features several well-known performers such as Bucktown All-Stars, Col. Bruce Hampton, Irvin Mayfield with special guest Kermit Ruffins, and others. www.ylcnola.org
  • Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) released Bridging the Perception Gap: Results of National Opinion Survey, a survey commissioned to understand how the rest of America views New Orleans. Key results include that six major urban centers have strong and deeply rooted positive perceptions of New Orleans but there is also a significant perception lag about the economic resurgence of Louisiana and New Orleans. The full results of the study are available at www.gnoinc.org/perceptionstudy
  • FoodFest: America's Hometown Eats is scheduled for March 22-24. Formerly known as the New Orleans Road Food Festival, FoodFest will celebrate America's hometown eats for the fifth year. Cooks from all over the country will migrate to New Orleans to serve their regional specialties throughout the French Market. www.nolafoodfest.com

Awards and honors

  • Yahoo! announced that New Orleans was in the Top Ten destinations searched for in 2012. The top three destinations were Las Vegas, Chicago and London. www.yearinreview.yahoo.com
  • The NTA member tour operators named the winners of its second annual Distinguished Dozen awards: 12 categories of destinations, attractions, hotels and restaurants selected as the favorites of NTA tour operator. New Orleans tied with Chicago for a silver award for Favorite Big City Destination, and the city won a gold award for Favorite Culinary Destination. The awards recognize product quality and partnerships. www.travelagentcentral.com/trends-research/nta-names-top-ranked-destinations-and-suppliers-38784
  • Andrea Thornton, recently retired from her title as Director of Sales and Marketing at Hotel Monteleone, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Historic Hotels of America at the 22rd annual Historic Hotels Awards. Her 35 years in the hospitality industry were marked by building partnerships and promoting the hotel through social media, public relations and building an aggressive sales team. www.historichotels.org/about-historic-hotels/awards.php.



  • The Roosevelt New Orleans invites Southeast Louisiana native Justin Ferguson as chef de cuisine for the hotel's Sazerac Restaurant. Ferguson is using his interest in French, Italian, Creole and charcuterie to offer guests an exceptional dining experience. Ferguson also will help launch a new concept for the Sazerac Restaurant, to be unveiled in late fall 2013.
  • In celebration of receiving the Grand Award, the highest award from Wine Spectator magazine, Commander's Palace has launched a new wine dinner series to celebrate the accolade held by only 75 restaurants in the entire world. The series began on Wednesday, January 30, at 6:30 p.m., during which Jim Nantz and Peter Deutsch hosted a dinner with wine pairings. www.commanderspalace.com
  • Thierry Connault has been appointed to the position of Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans to oversee the operations for M bistro, The Davenport Lounge, banquets, in-room dining, garde manger, pastry, employee cafeteria and spa café for the city's premier luxury property. Connault was the Executive Chef at The Ritz-Carlton Golf and Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica. www.ritzcarlton.comCookbook author and local radio host Amy Sins has opened Langlois Culinary Crossroads, a Cajun and Creole restaurant and cooking school. Named after Madame Langlois, housekeeper to the governor of Louisiana and mother of Creole, Sins' tasting table takes not of Langlois' historic classes that were at the "culinary crossroads" and the beginnings of Creole cuisine. www.langloisnola.com
  • Sobou has partnered with Museum of the American Cocktail to host a series of monthly seminars, each focusing on a different aspect of cocktail culture. The series will take place on the first Monday of each month. Tickets can be purchased at www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org.

Museums and Attractions

  • The Port of New Orleans welcomed two new home-ported cruise ships and set a new Port record for passenger embarkations during a two-day span during November 17-18. Norwegian Star of the Norwegian Cruise Line and Navigator of the Seas of the Royal Caribbean Cruise line have replaced older vessels in the port. A recent study found that the cruise industry accounted for $280 million in direct spending in Louisiana last year, and the city is among the top ten of all cruise ports in the United States. www.portno.com 
  • The Audubon Nature Institute and the San Diego Zoo Global have announced a new conservation alliance to enhance the sustainability of rare and endangered animal populations. Located in New Orleans, the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife will devise strategies to ensure sustainable populations of unique and endangered zoo animals. www.aza.org
  • New Orleans' performing arts scene continues to grow with the upcoming Broadway season at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, including past shows Les Misérables (Oct. 30-Nov. 4), Mary Poppins (Dec. 18-23), Jersey Boys (Jan. 8-27, 2013) and upcoming shows Flashdance (Feb. 26-March 3, 2013), Million Dollar Quartet (April 16-21, 2013) and Wicked (May 8-June 2, 2013) on the playbill. www.neworleans.broadway.com


  • Fillmore Hospitality announced the appointment of New Orleans hotelier, Steve Ferran, as Managing Director of The Maison Dupuy Hotel. As Managing Director of the French Quarter hotel, Ferran will oversee all aspects of the hotel and its two restaurants including day-to-day operations of the hotel and staff, strategy and business development, fiscal management, client retention and employee recruitment.
  • Hotel Monteleone has received recognition as one of the 2013 Best Hotels in the USA by U.S. News & World Report. The 2013 Best Hotels are calculated based on the aggregate opinion of travel experts and guests expressed through awards, recommendations, and ratings. www.travel.usnews.com


  • New Orleans is slated to host the 63rd NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, February 16, 2014. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at New Orleans Arena, home of the Hornets. This will mark the second time the city hosts the NBA All-Star Game, having previously been held in New Orleans in 2008.
  • The Allstate Sugar Bowl announced that it will host the newly-created bowl game featuring the champions of the Southeastern and Big 12 Conferences from 2014-2026. Hosting this game continues to put New Orleans in a national spotlight for sports. www.allstagesugarbowl.org

2013 Festivals

  • Zulu Lundi Gras Festival/Feb. 11
  • 25th Annual Lundi Gras at Spanish Plaza with Rex/Feb. 11
  • Mardi Gras Day/Feb. 12
  • Louisiana Oyster Jubilee/March 9
  • Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival/March 20-24
  • New Orleans Roadfood Festival/March 22-24
  • Spring Fiesta/March 2-10
  • Congo Square/New World Rhythms Festival/March 23-24
  • French Quarter Festival/April 11-14
  • New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Presented by Shell/April 26-May 5
  • Mid City Bayou Boogaloo/May 17-19
  • Asian Pacific American Society Festival/TBD
  • New Orleans Wine and Food Experience/May 21-25
  • Greek Festival/ May 25-27
  • New Orleans Oyster Festival/June 1-2
  • Creole Tomato Festival/ June 8-9
  • Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival/June 8-9
  • New Orleans Pride Festival/June 20-23
  • FestiGals/June 20-23
  • ESSENCE Music Festival/July 4-7
  • San Fermin in Nueva Orleans/July 11-14
  • Tales of the Cocktail/July 17-21
  • COOLinary New Orleans/Aug. 1-31
  • Satchmo SummerFest/Aug. 2-4
  • Whitney White Linen Night/Aug. 3
  • Dirty Linen Night/Aug. 10
  • New Orleans Red Dress Run/Aug. 10
  • Southern Decadence Festival/Aug. 28-Sept. 2
  • New Orleans Burlesque Festival/ TBD
  • New Orleans on Tap Beer Festival/ TBD
  • Gretna Heritage Festival/Oct. 4-6
  • Art for Arts' Sake/ TBD
  • Louisiana Seafood Festival/ Oct. 11-13
  • Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival/Oct. 18-20
  • New Orleans Film Festival/Oct. 10-17
  • Celebracion Latina/ TBD
  • Voodoo Music + Art Experience/Oct. 25-27
  • Bayou Bacchanal/ November 2
  • Louisiana Swamp Festival/ TBD
  • New Orleans Fringe Festival/ November 20-24
  • Oak Street Poboy Festival/ TBD
  • Words and Music Literary Festival/ TBD
  • Treme Creole Gumbo Festival/ November 9-10
  • Christmas New Orleans Style/December

Festival Attendance





Mardi Gras

1 million

1 million

1 million

1 million

French Quarter Festival





Jazz and Heritage Festival


400,000 +



New Orleans Wine & Food Experience





ESSENCE Music Fest


400,000 +



Tales of the Cocktail





Satchmo SummerFest





Southern Decadence Festival


100,000 +



Voodoo Music Experience


100,000 +



Meetings and Conventions

Meetings (3,000 or more in attendance) in 2013 include:

  • American Historical Association/ Jan. 3-5
  • 5Linx Enterprises, Incorporated/ Jan. 11-13
  • Society for Personality & Social Psychology/ Jan. 16-19   
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association/ Feb. 16-19
  • Ace Hardware Company Spring Convention/ Feb. 20-24
  • Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society/ March 3-7
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc./ March 18-24
  • Women's Basketball Coaches Association/ April 4-9
  • American Chemical Society/ April 6-10  
  • Society Of Interventional Radiology/ April 13-17
  • National Kitchen & Bath Association/ April 19-22
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons/ April 27-30
  • Electronic Transactions Association/April 29-May 1
  • American College Of Obstetricians And Gynecologists/May 4-7
  • Improved Benevolent Protective Order Of Elks Of The World/Aug. 2-8
  • MechaCon VII  Anime Convention/Aug. 22-25
  • Christian Community Development Association/ Sept. 11-14
  • Society Of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Inc./Sept. 17-19
  • Society of Petroleum Engineers/ Sept. 29-Oct. 1
  • Diversified Business Communications/Oct. 9-11
  • Produce Marketing Association/Oct. 17-20
  • American Dental Association/Oct. 30-Nov. 2
  • American Academy Of Ophthalmology/Nov. 15-18
  • The Gerontological Society Of America/Nov. 20-22
  • American Society of Hematology/Dec. 6-9
  • American Society For Cell Biology/Dec. 14-17


In total, $300 million worth of modernization projects were completed at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Following the expansion of Concourse D and the addition of six new gates, the Airport is continuing to focus on the construction of the new consolidated rental car facility (CONRAC), which will increase capacity to accommodate current needs and anticipated growth over the next 15 years. The new structure will increase the rental inventory from 800 cars to approximately 1,800 in a modern three-story structure. The facility will include rental car company counters and offices and be the drop-off and pick-up point for the rental cars. With its close proximity to the terminal, the CONRAC will eliminate the need for shuttles. New service centers for rental cars have been constructed and are functioning as temporary drop-off and pick-up points for the automobiles. www.flymsy.com

Additional airport upgrades completed by Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans includes a new Security and Communications Center, free WiFi in the terminal, new Flight Display Information Systems, refurbished and new restrooms, a new aircraft rescue and firefighting station (ARFF), new signage, new passenger aircraft loading bridges, apron rehabilitation, a new façade on the exterior of the terminal, the installation of a new décor in the passenger terminal areas that will bring natural light into the ticketing and baggage claim areas, widening of walkways and plans for a storm-proof power and water facility.

  • The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is expanding its current ticketing lobby. This construction required the relocation of Whitney Bank's Airport Branch.
  • Spirit Airlines began service from New Orleans in January 2013 with a daily non-stop service from New Orleans International Airport to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. This addition will add value to the airport and the city, as well as help meet the demands of locals and visitors.
  • As part of the ongoing transformation at the Airport, the New Orleans Saints opened their Saints store in September 2012.  The store of the Super Bowl XLVII Champions features licensed Saints merchandise, apparel and collectibles currently only found in their team store located in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints. The new Airport location will provide jobs for 9 employees operating from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
  • New restaurants at the airport include offshoots of Dooky Chase and Ye Old College Inn, along with Le Petit Bistro, Zatarain's Kitchen, Copeland's Gourmet Kitchen, Copeland's Cheesecake and Wow Café and Wingery.

Additional flights in 2013 include:

  • Spirit Airlines (New airline - one daily departure to Dallas/Ft. worth began January 2013
  • Frontier Airlines (New non-stop service 2x weekly to Trenton, NJ)
  • United Airlines (one new daily departure to Newark begins March 2013)
  • American Airlines (one new daily departure to Dallas/Ft. Worth)
  • Delta (One new daily departure to New York JFK)


  • First half of 2012: 4.9 million visitors/$3.45 billion
  • 2011: 8.75 million visitors/$5.47 billion (highest visitor spending in city's history)
  • 2010: 8.3 million visitors/$5.3 billion
  • 2009: 7.5 million visitors/$4.2 billion
  • 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 78,000
  • Hotels: 263 and 37,100 hotel rooms
  • Restaurants: 1,340 (www.nomenu.com)
  • Airport: As of February 2013; 16,831 average daily seats and 134 average daily departures serving 39 non-stop destinations

About the New Orleans CVB
The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is a nationally accredited, 1,100-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, Phoenix and four countries. Consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country, the New Orleans CVB will celebrate its 53rd anniversary in 2013. For more information, please visit www.neworleanscvb.com.

Media Contact
Sarah Forman

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