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What's New in New Orleans' Hospitality Industry - September/October 2012


  • 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 region. These additional flights will bring approximately 1.5 million additional seats into the market annually.
  • Grammy Award-winning Irvin Mayfield and The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra celebrate their 10th anniversary with a live performance at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall on October 8. Special guests include Aaron Neville, Branford Marsalis and American Idol finalists' Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams and more. For details and ticket information, visit
  • The 12th Annual Satchmo Summer Fest took place in the French Quarter August 3-5 to honor the beloved Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. This free festival included 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 Howard Hughes Corporation announced plans for the redevelopment of 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.
  • 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."
  • October 11-18, the 23rd Annual New Orleans Film Festival continues its tradition of presenting an eclectic program of films, panels and parties in the Big Easy. This festival is growing alongside the Louisiana film and television production industry, now ranked third in the nation.
  • This year's COOLinary New Orleans campaign ran from August 1-31 and featured pre-fixed menus and special pricing at more than 60 of the top restaurants throughout the city. Locals and visitors alike enjoyed two-or-three course lunches for $20 or less and a three-course dinners for $35 or less. The event celebrated the renowned and authentic cuisine of New Orleans.
  • Starting September 20, 2012, City Sightseeing New Orleans will offer a Hop On-Hop off open-top double-decker tour. This new and exciting attraction puts New Orleans on an international level with more than 96 countries in five continents. The tour will have stops at the major attractions, including Jackson Square, French Market, Audubon Insectarium, National World War II Museum, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Bourbon Street, Basin Street Station and Mardi Gras World. One, two and three day passes are offered. The live tour will be in English with seven languages available via headphones in the near future.
  •, a division of, named New Orleans as one of the "Five Most Affordable U.S. Cities for Travelers" and one of the "Best Cities for Bachelorette and Bachelor Parties." This website helps travelers choose their next vacation destination and plan their trip by offering ideas and recommendations customized to their specific travel interest.
  • The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation Board of Directors, comprised of elected officials and senior tourism leaders, voted to award the organization's tourism marketing contract to New York based Dentsu America and Spears Consulting Group. This comprehensive marketing contract represents the primary tourism marketing efforts of the city of New Orleans.
  • NOLA Fashion Week (NOLAFW), October 13-20, is an opportunity for both established and up-and-coming Southern based or born designers to gain exposure while making an economic impact to the New Orleans fashion industry. Established in March 2011, NOLAFW offers runway shows and presentations, educational workshops, a fashion market and more at various venues throughout the city.
  • New Orleans' performing arts scene continues to grow as the playbill for the 2012-2013 Broadway season at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts includes 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). , furthering the attractiveness of New Orleans
  • The Louisiana Restaurant Association's (LRA) Greater New Orleans Chapter hosted the We Live to Eat: Louisiana Seafood Restaurant Week, September 10-16, 2012. Participating restaurants offered a fixed price menu, and each menu included at least one Louisiana seafood option. The restaurants range from fine dining establishments to neighborhood favorite.
  • Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, October 26-28, will feature headliners such as Green Day, The Avett Brothers and Neil Young & Crazy Horse and local favorites such as the Treme Brass Band and Little Freddie King. Along with enjoying these world-class performing artists, festival-goers will experience multimedia art installations, parades, light shows, craft and food booths and more. This is the first year camping will be allowed at City Park throughout the festival.
  • 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 National WWII Museum now offers the "History and Heritage" travel package, which gives visitors a look at the culture and history of New Orleans combined with an insider's tour of the National WWII Museum. Offered on a monthly basis, the package presents an opportunity for travelers to spend a long weekend behind-the-scenes at the Museum with curators, while also touring the city.
  • 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 welcomed one of the largest Decadence celebrations in history, and despite Hurricane Isaac just days before, the festival brought in revelers for the 41st Annual Southern Decadence Festival, August 29-September 3. This "end of summer Celebration of Gay Life, Music and Culture" has received much acclaim in recent years throughout the United States.
  • 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.

Awards & Accolades

  • In June, Travel + Leisure magazine 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 10 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 CVB 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.
  • 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.


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.
  • 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.



  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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.

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
  • 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.

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.

  • 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:

  • 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: 1,310 (
  • Airport: As of September 2012; 15,269 average daily seats and 124 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

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