What's New in New Orleans' Hospitality Industry - November/December 2012


  • According to Travel + Leisure readers who have visited New Orleans, New Orleans tops the list as America's Favorite City 2012 Overall, as well as the Top City for: Cafes, Music Scene, Girlfriends Getaway, Antique Stores, Local Pride, Happy Hour, People-Watching, Wild Weekends, Singles Scene, Street Performers, Flea Market and New Year's Eve. Results were posted in the November 2012 issue. www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/city/new-orleans
  • The City of New Orleans receiving a 2012 World Tourism Award for "the extraordinary initiatives by individuals, companies, organizations, destinations and attractions for outstanding accomplishments in the travel industry." Coinciding with this honor, the New Orleans CVB President and CEO Stephen Perry received a World Travel Market Globe Award for his role in restoring the city as a tourism destination following Hurricane Katrina.
  • The 39th Annual Bayou Classic brings together family, friends and alumni of Grambling State University and Southern University to see college rivalries play and celebrate football, family and the traditions surrounding Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This year's schedule includes the Battle of the Bands and Greek Show, Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade, as well as several other events. www.mybayouclassic.com
  • New Orleans hosted 4.9 million visitors in the first half of 2012, an increase of two percent over the same period in 2011. These visitors spent a total of $3.45 billion, a boost of 11 percent over January - June 2011. These figures are the result of the 2012 University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center's 2012 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile, commissioned by the New Orleans CVB and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.
  • Condé Nast Traveler placed New Orleans in the Top 10 Cities in the United States in their 2012 Readers' Choice Awards. More than 46,000 readers, mostly made up of frequent travelers and travel trend-setters, voted in this year's poll. Condé Nast Traveler readers also voted New Orleans hotels in their Best Hotel and Top 40 Hotels in the South category. Hotels include the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, The Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Soniat House Hotel, Windsor Court Hotel and Hotel Monteleone.
  • The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center announced its partnership with the Recirculating Farms Coalition and the New Orleans Food and Farm Network to build an innovative food and farming center on 2.5 acres of land at the corner of Melpomene and Tchoupitoulas Streets. The new center, named Growing Local NOLA, will be a hub for research, education, training and community interaction on growing, marketing and preparing fresh food. www.mccno.com/a-food-and-farm-center-for-new-orleans-on-national-food-day/
  • In August 2012, Southwest Airlines announced it will increase its presence in New Orleans with a total of 114 daily flights by March 9, 2013. Southwest currently operates 76 flights from New Orleans, and Air Tran Airways operates eight daily flights. This 35 percent increase in lift over the August schedule is a huge win for the New Orleans area. The additional flights will bring approximately 1.5 million additional seats into the market annually. www.flymsy.com
  • The Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots opens its 141st Thoroughbred Racing Season on Thanksgiving Day, November 22. This season is highlighted by the milestone 100th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby for Kentucky Derby hopefuls and the Inaugural Infield Festival on March 30, 2013. www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/
  • Greyhound now offers a new service, Greyhound Express, a non-stop service between major cities, including Atlanta, Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Beaumont and Houston. These premiere buses include free Wi-Fi, reserved seating and many more upgrades. www.greyhound.com/Express/
  • The Howard Hughes Corporation announced plans for the redevelopment of the Riverwalk Marketplace into an upscale outlet center - The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk. Planning to invest $70 million into the transformation of the retail venue, the Howard Hughes Corporation will expand its footprint by about 50,000 square feet. The property is expected to reopen in late 2013. www.riverwalkmarketplace.com
  • After a multi-million dollar makeover, the Carnival Conquest returns to New Orleans. The upgrades include a variety of new features including an EA Sports Bar, Guy's Burger Joint) developed in partnership with Food Network's Guy Fieri), Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez, Red Frog Rum Bar and more. www.carnival.com/cruise-ships/carnival-conquest.aspx
  • In 2012, the well-known neighborhood Tremé hosted a week-long series of events to 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. www.treme2012.com
  • The Irish Cultural Museum of New Orleans, now open in downtown New Orleans, devotes resources to promote education, charity and support to programs that promote the Irish and Irish-American culture and heritage in the city. www.icmnola.com
  • Criollo Restaurant in the Hotel Monteleone is the recent recipient of OpenTable's 2012 Diner's Choice Award. The Diner's Choice Award is given to restaurants based on reviews submitted via the diner feedback form at OpenTable.com, sent to each diner following an online reservation. www.criollonola.com
  • Throughout the month of December, hotels, restaurants and attractions participate in Christmas New Orleans Style, offering deals and discounts for the holidays. More than 50 New Orleans hotels and bed & breakfasts offer Papa Noel deals all month long, while Reveillon Dinners, a Creole French holiday dining tradition, can be found at restaurants throughout the city. www.neworleansonline.com/holiday
  • Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar in New Orleans was voted the Best Sports Bar in North America by ESPN Mobile. The winning bar was selected by a combination of fan balloting and editorial panel review. ESPN Mobile's Editorial board said it was "impressed by their extensive food and beer selection, plethora of TV's and, most importantly, extreme dedication by their patrons." www.walk-ons.com
  • Equire named SoBou as one of the Best New Restaurants in America. The magazine's Food and Travel Correspondent compiled the list of Best Restaurants and selected this Commander's Family restaurant to be one of the top new restaurants of the year. www.sobounola.com
  • Live music, arts and nearly three dozen restaurants with the city's best chefs decorated Oak Street for the sixth annual New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival on November 18 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For the first time the festival had a VIP area that offered parking within walking distance of the festival, covered seating and an open bar featuring Abita Beer with a selection of non-alcoholic drinks and snacks. The music stages featured local favorites Los Poboycitos, Flow Tribe, Honey Island Swamp Band, Treme Funktet and more. This festival is free, open to the public and fun for the family. www.poboyfest.com
  • Emeril's Delmonico announced a new chef, Chef Anthony Scanio, will lead the restaurant's kitchen. Scanio was previously Delmonico's executive sous chef, and combine his New Orleans heritage with a fresh, clean ingredient-based approach to cooking, keeping with Lagasse's signature "New New Orleans" cuisine. www.emerilsrestaurants.com
  • In anticipation of Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013 in New Orleans, the New Orleans CVB is partnering with Joe Cahn, the "Commissioner of Tailgating," as he tours across the country showing NFL fans how to throw a Super Bowl party like a New Orleanian. Follow Joe on his "Road Home to the Dome." www.tailgating.com
  • A new exhibition at The Historic New Orleans Collection in the recently completed Perrilliat House opened in October 2012. Part of the Williams Research Center, the new building houses the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art. The new gallery space will host rotating exhibitions drawing from the visual-art collection donated by Nelson in 1995, along with other THNOC holdings. www.hnoc.com
  • New Orleans' performing arts scene continues to grow with the upcoming Broadway season at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, including 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) on the playbill. www.neworleans.broadway.com
  • Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, October 26-28, featured headliners such as Metallica, The Avett Brothers and Neil Young & Crazy Horse and local favorites such as the Tremé Brass Band and Little Freddie King. Along with enjoying these world-class performing artists, festival-goers experienced multimedia art installations, parades, light shows, craft and food booths and more. Also, for the first time, camping was allowed at City Park throughout the festival. www.thevoodooexperience.com
  • Tales of the Cocktail experienced another record breaking year at this summer's 10th Anniversary festival in New Orleans in July 2012. More than 23,000 cocktail professionals and enthusiasts attended event gatherings throughout the city, a 7.8 percent increase from 2011. Attendees and vendors of the festival created an economic impact of $14.3 million, an increase of $1.6 million from 2011. www.talesofthecocktail.com
  • In June 2012, The Southern Food and Beverage Museum broke ground on 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. www.southernfood.org


In 2012, the City of New Orleans has won 15 national and international awards for being a premiere destination. To see a full list of awards and accolades, visit www.neworleanscvb.com/press-media/press-kit/city-cvb-awards/


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 also host the 2013 NCAA Women's Final Four and the NBA Men's Allstar Game in 2014.  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. www.superdome.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


  • W French Quarter unveiled a full scale property renovation, including the look of all 97 guest rooms, the Living Room (W's take on the traditional hotel lobby), Studio meting spaces, and the outdoor courtyard. It has also opened SWEAT, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a new signature restaurant, SoBou, a contemporary Creole concept from the Commander's Family of Restaurants 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 features self-serve wine dispensing machines and a beer garden with beer booths. www.wfrenchquarter.com
  • The Residence Inn New Orleans Downtown has undergone a complete renovation of its 231 suites and public spaces, transforming it into an upscale hotel. The residential-style studio, one bedroom and two bedroom suites offer more spacious accommodations, with larger workspace, and updated kitchen and free high speed internet access. Their goal is to provide the same feeling of comfortable living on the road. www.residenceinn.com
  • 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 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. frenchquarter.hyatt.com
  • 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. www.windsorcourthotel.com
  • 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. www.auduboncottages.com/

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. www.thejoytheater.com
  • 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. 
  • 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 New Orleans. www.prospectneworleans.org

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 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. 11-18
  • Celebracion Latina/Oct. 13
  • Voodoo Music + Art Experience/Oct. 26-28
  • Bayou Bacchanal/Nov. 3-4
  • 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. www.neworleansgreathall.com

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. www.flymsy.com

  • 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 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.
  • 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.

Additional flights in 2012 include:

  • Delta Airlines (New non-stop destination - one daily departure to New York JFK) began June 2012
  • Southwest (New service - one daily departure to Kansas City) begins November 2012


  • 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: 1,311 (www.nomenu.com)
  • Airport: As of November 2012; 14,620 average daily seats and 123 average daily departures serving 37 non-stop destinations

About the New Orleans CVB
The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is a nationally accredited, 1,100-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 celebrated its 52nd anniversary in 2012. For more information, please visit www.neworleanscvb.com.

Media Contact
Sarah Forman

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