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What's New in New Orleans' Hospitality Industry - July/August 2012


  • The 10th Anniversary of Tales of the Cocktail®, July 25-29, will bring the most respected minds on mixology to New Orleans for cocktails, cuisine and culture. This international event includes a schedule of seminars, dinners, competitions and tasting rooms, where world-renowned brands will showcase their latest products with the cocktail community.
  • The 12th Annual Satchmo Summer Fest will be held in the French Quarter August 3-5 to honor the beloved Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. This free festival will include outdoor events featuring live music, dishes served from some of New Orleans best restaurants and lectures, concerts and exhibitions dedicated to the life, music and legacy of New Orleans' native son.
  • The eighth Annual COOLinary New Orleans, taking place August 1-31, features pre-fixed menus and special pricing at more than 50 of the top restaurants throughout the city. Enjoy a two-or-three course lunch for $20 or less and a three-course dinner for $35 or less. The event commemorates the renowned and authentic cuisine of New Orleans and its culinary community.
  • Travel + Leisure ranked New Orleans as a Top City in the United States and Canada in this year's World's Best Awards. The city's recognition as a premiere destination has boosted its ranking from 2011's sixth place position to fifth place out of ten.
  • New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation launched GO NOLA, the first official visitor app for the iPhone. Celebrity tour guides, including John Goodman and Wendell Pierce, navigate visitors through New Orleans, and an augmented reality feature identifies landmarks through the phone's camera. It is now available free on the iPhone and Droid.
  • W French Quarter unveils a new image this summer inspired by New Orleans as it transforms the look of its 97 guest rooms, living room, restaurant and bar. The Commander's Family of Restaurants opened SoBou, their new Modern Creole Saloon at the W French Quarter that showcases innovative design and creative cocktails. Short for South of Bourbon Street, SoBou's menu debuted Louisiana street food inspired small plates created by Executive Chef Juan Carlos Gonzales. The cocktail program feature self-serve wine dispensing machines and a beer garden with beer booths.
  • The Louisiana Restaurant Association's (LRA) Greater New Orleans Chapter announced that We Live to Eat: Louisiana Seafood Restaurant Week will be held September 10-16, 2012. Participating restaurants will offer a fixed price menu, and each menu will include at least one Louisiana seafood option.
  • Spirit Airlines will begin 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.
  • In June 2012, The Southern Food and Beverage Museum broke ground for a 30,000-square-foot facility, which will include a restaurant, an exhibit for each of the 17 southern states, a children's gallery, a cultural innovation center and more. This facility, along with the SoFAB Culinary Library, is scheduled to open in March 2013.
  • The Historic New Orleans Collection's latest exhibition, "Something Old, Something New: Collecting in the 21st Century," is made up of the most significant acquisitions since the year 2000. Chosen by a team of staff curators and historians, the exhibition spans nearly 300 years and represents the diversity of The Collection's archive. The free exhibition runs from July 24, 2012-February 8, 2013.
  • The newly renovated Audubon Cottages are a collection of seven cottages that offers guests private, luxury hotel accommodations in the French Quarter. The Cottages include private, guest-only access with a shared saltwater pool, said to be the oldest pool in New Orleans. After an extensive multi-million dollar restoration, the French Quarter cottages reflect the charm of old New Orleans while offering modern amenities and a high level of service.
  • Chef Marcus Woodham joined The Saint Hotel family as the executive chef of TEMPT, formerly Sweet Olive. Chef Woodham's menu incorporates his Louisiana roots with his modern culinary style, and will offer a constantly changing seasonal menu focusing on local produce and products.
  • A non-profit, affordable-housing developer recently closed on the purchase of the four-story building next to the Saenger Theater, which is the former La Salle Hotel, clearing the way for an $11.6 million investment. The plan includes transforming the building in to 32 affordable rental units with street-level rental space at the corner of Canal and Basin Streets.
  • The Crescent City is preparing for one of the largest Decadence celebrations in history, expecting to bring more than 135,000 revelers fort the 41st Annual Southern Decadence Festival, August 29-Septembr 3. This "end of summer Celebration of Gay Life, Music and Culture" has received much acclaim in recent years throughout the United States, and is expected to have an economic impact of more than $150 million.
  • The Roosevelt New Orleans has been placed on the Expedia Insiders' Select List for 2012, an annual ranking of best reviewed hotels. The Insiders' Select List largely reflects the feedback from more than 500,000 customer reviews received during 2011. Only 650 hotels out of more than 150,000 properties available on Expedia-branded sites are selected for this exclusive list.
  • June 22-24, New Orleans hosted the Second Annual FestiGals Weekend, a specially-designed weekend created by and for women, where about 400 women from more than 15 states across the country came together to take part in the empowerment seminars, workshops and cultural experiences designed to showcase the city. TODAY Show co-host, Dateline correspondent and New York Times best-selling author Hoda Kotb joined a high-powered line-up of female speakers during the weekend-long festival. More than $23,000 was raised from the Bodacious Bra auction, where Kotb's own bra creation raked in $5,000. All proceeds went to the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans.
  • This year's ESSENCE Music Festival, July 5-8, featured top performers and speakers who entertained 413,000 people over four days in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center. The roster included favorites Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, Keyshia Cole, Kevin Hart, New Orleans-born Ledisi and more. Free, daytime empowerment seminars, held in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, featured Steve Harvey, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Maxine Waters and a gospel tribute to Fred Hammond and Mary Mary.
  • In 2012, the well-known neighborhood Tremé is celebrating 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.
  • New Orleans Windsor Court Hotel completed a $22 million restoration, including new décor in 316 guest rooms and suites, a refurbished Club Level lounge, a renovation of the Le Salon, a refresh of The Grill Room, The Polo Club Lounge, the pool area and meetings spaces; and the addition of a lobby bar and spa. The updated guestrooms, public spaces and newly named lobby Cocktail Bar debuted in January and the Spa at Windsor Court debuted in Spring 2012.

Awards & Accolades

  • In June, Travel + Leisure named New Orleans the best U.S. city for shopping, based on consumer experience. With a variety of boutiques, antique stores and high-end retail stores, New Orleans shopping proves to satisfy a consumer with any budget.
  • For the second year, TripAdvisor's TripIndex ranked New Orleans among the most affordable cities in the United States for domestic travelers based on one night's accommodation, dinner for two, cocktails and a taxi ride. New Orleans scored in the top four of the ten most affordable cities, further promoting the city as a budget friendly and culturally significant destination.
  • New Orleans was named the AAA Southern Traveler's Annual Best of the South's Best Large City for a Weekend Getaway for the third consecutive year, once again establishing the city as a premiere destination for travelers. Additionally, several members of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and its industry partners were recognized for excellence in categories such as Best Large Hotel, Best Bed & Breakfast, Best Attraction, Best Brunch and Best Fine Dining.
  • TripAdvisor announced that New Orleans is one of their 2012 Top 25 Traveler's Choice World Destinations and Top 25 Travelers' choice U.S. Destinations. The Travelers' Choice Destinations awards honor top travel spots worldwide based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor travelers. Award winners were determined based on the popularity of destinations, taking into account travelers' favorites and most highly rated places.


Hosting a number of high-profile sporting events in the first half of 2012 was a tremendous way for New Orleans to start the year, 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.
Events hosted include:

  • 78th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl
  • Several Hornets games
  • New Orleans Saints Playoff Game
  • BCS National Championship
  • 2012 NCAA Men's Final Four
  • Zurich Classic

Sports fans not only enjoyed a newly-renovated Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but also the city's 1,300+ restaurants and many music clubs, creating an overall, one-of-a-kind experience.  The city anticipates Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. New Orleans will host the 2013 NCAA Women's Final Four and the NBA Men's Allstar Game in 2012.  No other city has played host to such a series of high-profile sporting events within a two-year period, proving New Orleans to be a premiere destination for sporting events.

  • The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has completed an $85 million renovation; part of an overall $336 million renovation that began in 2006. Key significant enhancements include an expansion of the Plaza Level concourse by 50 feet, 135 additional new women's restrooms, additional concession points of sale on the Plaza Level, 3,100 additional Plaza Level seats, 186 digital concourse monitors and two new premium bunker club lounges.
  • 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.


  • Event, Survey & eMarketing Solutions Company, Cvent, named five New Orleans hotels in their Top 100 Meeting Hotels in the United States. Hotels include Sheraton Hotel New Orleans, Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, New Orleans Marriott and The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel. These hotels, along with many others, cater to the many conventions that choose New Orleans each year.
  • Hotel Modern and The Saint Hotel were placed on the 16th Annual Conde Nast Traveler May 2012 Hot List. The two New Orleans' hotels were listed out of the 121 hotels from all over the world. Hotel Modern opened in November 2011 and The Saint Hotel soon after in January 2012. Having two of the top 12 hotels in the United States located in New Orleans only further adds to the city's appeal to visitors.

  • Following an $18 million renovation to this historic hotel property, Hyatt French Quarter announced their opening on May 15, making it the third Hyatt Hotel to enter the New Orleans market within the last year. Their recent renovations include upgrades to all 254 guest rooms, as well as to the hotel exterior, lobby, landscaping and pool and deck area. Newly designed food and beverage outlets will include Powdered Sugar, a market concept eatery, Batch, an upscale lounge, and Red Fish Grill. The Hard Rock Café has plans to open in the Hyatt French Quarter in early 2013. www.
  • Hyatt Place New Orleans/Convention Center announced their official opening of the newly renovated hotel. Centrally located in the Warehouse District and only steps away from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the hotel looks to host both convention travelers and leisure travelers.
  • Five properties of the New Orleans Hotel Collection received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award. Hotels including Bourbon Orleans, Dauphine Orleans, Hotel Le Marais, Hotel Mazarin and Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport were honored as highly rated hotels as reviewed by travelers on the world's largest travel site. The award honors hospitality excellence and is only given to less than 10 percent of accommodations listed on the website.


  • Led by Chef de Cuisine Joseph Maynard and Executive Chef Randolph Buck, Criollo Restaurant and Lounge opened May 23 in the heart of the French Quarter and features dishes infusing traditional Creole flavors with new spices in a style called Louisiana Fusion. Located next to the world-famous Carousel Bar and Lounge, the restaurant is inside the historic Hotel Monteleone. The restaurant is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto's Restaurant R'evolution debuted to the public at the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans on June 4. The new 6,000 square-foot, 200-seat restaurant and bar is the first project under the chefs' new restaurant development company, Home on the Range: Folse Tramonto Restaurant Development LLC. It offers modern, imaginative reinterpretations of classic Cajun and Creole cuisine.

Museums & Theatres

  • 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.
  • Disney's "The Lion King" celebrated a record-breaking engagement at The Mahalia Jackson Theater. In five weeks, it entertained nearly 85,000 people and grossed more than $6.5 million at the box office, making it the highest-grossing theatrical production in New Orleans history. It is estimated that the performances generated a $22 million economic benefit to the city from travel, hotels, restaurants, parking and other businesses patronized by both theatergoers and production staff. Broadway Across America continues its commitment to New Orleans. The 2012-2013 season at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts continues 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).
  • Prospect.3 New Orleans, the third edition of the international contemporary art biennial, will open in the fall of 2014. The mission of Prospect New Orleans is to bring important contemporary art from around the world to the Crescent City. Planning for the exhibition is already underway and will feature works of art created specifically for the Crescent City.

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
  • Louisiana Oyster Jubilee/March 10
  • Earth Fest/March 17-18
  • Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival/March 21-25
  • New Orleans Roadfood Festival/March 23-25
  • Spring Fiesta/March 23-April 1
  • Congo Square/New World Rhythms Festival/March 24-25
  • 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 2-3
  • Creole Tomato Festival/ June 9-10
  • Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival/June 9-10
  • New Orleans Pride Festival/June 21-24
  • FestiGals/June 22-24
  • ESSENCE Music Festival/July 5-8
  • Midsummer Nightmare/July 12-15
  • San Fermin in Nueva Orleans/July 13-15
  • Tales of the Cocktail/July 25-29
  • COOLinary New Orleans/Aug. 1-31
  • Satchmo SummerFest/Aug. 3-5
  • 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. 13-15
  • New Orleans on Tap Beer Festival/Sept. 29
  • Gretna Heritage Festival/Oct. 5-7
  • Art for Arts' Sake/Oct. 6
  • Louisiana Seafood Festival/Oct. 12-14
  • Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival/Oct. 12-14
  • New Orleans Film Festival/Oct. 12-18
  • Celebracion Latina/Oct. 13
  • Voodoo Music Experience/Oct. 26-28
  • Louisiana Swamp Festival/Nov. 3-4
  • New Orleans Fringe Festival/Nov. 14-18
  • Oak Street Poboy Festival/Nov. 18
  • Words and Music Literary Festival/Nov. 28-Dec. 2
  • Treme Creole Gumbo Festival/Dec. 8
  • Christmas New Orleans Style/December


Festival Attendance




Mardi Gras

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

  • The Great Hall of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will debut in January 2013, featuring a 60,300-square-foot divisible Great Hall, 25,400 square foot multi-use pre-function space, and hotel-like appointments throughout. The impressive one-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.
  • May 8-10, New Orleans hosted International CTIA WIRELESS 2012, which drew 40,000 attendees, occupied more than 320,000-square-feet of exhibit space, featured more than 1,000 exhibitors, hosted more than 1,000 journalists and media representatives and utilized nearly every hotel in the city. This year's show was one of the largest meetings New Orleans has hosted, bringing in an estimated economic impact of more than $47 million.
  • Nearly 1,000 attendees and 172 exhibitors came together for the 30th Annual SGMP National Education Conference (NEC), the biggest annual event in the government meetings industry, was held New Orleans May 16-18. Between 2006 and 2009, New Orleans hosted 631+ government meetings and 220 meetings between 2010 and 2011. These meetings had a direct impact on the local economy and rebuilding New Orleans' largest industry - tourism.
  • The 2012 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Youth Gathering was held in New Orleans July 18-22. More than 35,000 youth, adults and volunteers came together to practice discipleship through peacemaking for justice. The ELCA collaborated with nearly 50 local organizations at 400 worksites, including the New Orleans Recreation Department, New Orleans Community and Schools Organization, United Saints. The Gathering, appropriately themed "Citizens with the Saints," blends the rich faith history, diverse cultures and arts of New Orleans with the convention's mission to service the city's public education system, shrinking wetlands and housing.

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 Association 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 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.

Additional airport upgrades completed or scheduled to be ready by the 2013 Super Bowl 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.

Additional flights in 2012 include:

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



  • 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 74,000
  • Hotels: 263 and 37,100 hotel rooms
  • Restaurants: 1,311 (
  • Airport: As of July 2012; 15,150 average daily seats and 127 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, Phoenix and four countries. Consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country, the New Orleans CVB celebrated its 52th anniversary in 2012. For more information, please visit

Media Contact
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