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


  • The 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell was attended by an estimated 450,000 people over the seven-day event, marking the highest attendance since 2003. Festival go-ers celebrated the 50th anniversary of Preservation Hall, the return of Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles first-ever Jazz Fest, the beloved Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews' numerous appearances and more. www.nojazzfest.com
  • 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. www.criollonola.com
  • Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto's Restaurant R'evolution debuts to the public at the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans on June 4. The new 6,000 square-foot, 200-seat restaurant and bar-the first project under the chefs' new restaurant development company, Home on the Range: Folse Tramonto Restaurant Development LLC-will offer modern, imaginative reinterpretations of classic Cajun and Creole cuisine. www.revolutionnola.com
  • New Orleans' tourism industry welcomed 8.75 million visitors in 2011, the highest numbers in our city's history. It was an increase of 5.6 percent, or 462,263 from the number of visitors in 2010 (8.3 million). Those 8.75 million visitors spent $5.47 billion, a $180 million increase over 2010. New Orleans' tourism industry has a goal of reaching 13.7 million visitors by 2018. www.neworleanscvb.com
  • New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, NOTMC, launched GO NOLA, the first official visitor app for iPhone's on May 15. 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. www.neworleansonline.com
  • Called the "largest free music festival in the south," this year's French Quarter Festival presented by Capital One reported 574,000 attendees over four days of music, food and fun, an increase from 2011's 533,000 attendees. Both locals and visitors enjoyed the 800 local musicians, more than 65 of New Orleans finest restaurants, two areas for kids, fireworks on the Mississippi River and ‘Locals' Lagniappe Day'. www.fqfi.org
  • 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 Louisiana Office of Tourism has launched Louisiana Soundtrack, a website for visitors to enjoy the state's musical offerings and plan a personalized music-themed vacation. The site has audio and video of genres such as jazz, Cajun and zydeco music. Visitors to the website can also learn about the heritage and evolution of Louisiana music, and information on venues and events. www.LouisianaSoundtrack.com
  • Prospect.3 New Orleans, the third edition of the international contemporary art biennial, will open Fall 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. www.prospectneworleans.org
  • May 22-26, The New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) celebrated its 20th anniversary of raising money for local non-profits while showcasing local food and chefs, and national and international wines. NOWFE offered wine and food seminars, wine dinners at participating restaurants, wine tasting events and two Grand Tastings, attracting more than 10,000 people to the five-day event in 2011. The Big Gateaux Show, An International Cake Competition and Tasting, was added to the schedule of events for this year's NOWFE. www.nowfe.com
  • June 22-24, New Orleans will host the Second Annual FestiGals Weekend, a specially-designed weekend created by and for women, where inspirational seminars and empowerment workshops will be mixed with unique New Orleans activities. All net proceeds are dedicated to supporting women battling cancer. TODAY Show co-host, Dateline correspondent and New York Times best-selling author Hoda Kotb will join a high-powered line-up of female speakers planned for the weekend-long festival. She will be featured as the event's keynote during a luncheon presentation at the Hotel Monteleone on Friday, June 22. Also, celebrity Chef John Folse will host a culinary presentation/lunch on Saturday, June 23. www.festigals.org
  • This year's ESSENCE Music Festival has announced the addition of a fourth day dedicated to spotlighting new talent. The festival, July 5-8, will feature acts such as Aretha Franklin, who tops the list of performers slated for the 2012 ESSENCE Fest in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The roster also includes ESSENCE favorites Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, Aretha Franklin, Keyshia Cole, Kevin Hart, New Orleans-born Ledisi and more. Free, daytime empowerment seminars will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and will feature Steve Harvey, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Maxine Waters and a gospel tribute to Fred Hammond and Mary Mary. www.essence.com/festivals
  • The Vampire Film Festival announced the creation of a new spin-off festival, Midsummer Nightmare, for July 12-15. The festival will be a mix of Shakespeare, New Orleans and all things mythical, and will feature films, a Haunted History Tour, pub crawls, tarot readings, a funeral procession and more. www.nolamidsummernightmare.com
  • The American Queen, the largest steamboat in the world, features three to 10-night sailings to cities including New Orleans, along with port calls in other river towns. The ship resumed riverboat cruising in late April after a multimillion dollar refurbishment. New on the Mighty Mississippi is soon to be the 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi, whose inaugural cruise is August 11 from New Orleans to Memphis. www.GreatAmericanSteamboatCompany.com & www.americancruiselines.com
  • March 31-April 2, New Orleans hosted the 2012 NCAA Men's Final Four®, which offered basketball fans a series of events, including Bracket Town, the Big Dance Concert Series featuring KISS, the Black Keys and Jimmy Buffett, youth clinics and more, which led to the championship game on April 2. The 2012 NCAA Men's Final Four® games had a total of 73,361 people in attendance, the second-highest attended session in NCAA Tournament history. More than 43,000 fans and community members attended Bracket Town and 130,000 fans attended The Big Dance Concert Series. The economic impact of the event was $135 million over the weekend. www.ncaa.com/finalfour
  • Vintage Tall Ships from countries around the world docked in New Orleans April 17-23, joining the U.S. Navy and OpSail 2012 for NOLA Navy Week. More than 121,000 people visited the nine ships docked in Woldenberg Park over the seven days. New Orleans was the first stop on the tour of vintage Tall Ships' to celebrate The Bicentennial of the War of 1812. The ships have sailed on to other U.S. cities but will return to New Orleans for the official closing of the War of 1812 Bicentennial in 2015. www.opsail.org
  • In 2012, the well-known neighborhood Tremé will celebrate its 200th anniversary. This area gave rise to jazz and brass bands, incredible architecture, Mardi Gras Indians and several pioneers of the civil rights movement, and is now home to key cultural institutions like the New Orleans African American Museum, Backstreet Cultural Museum, St. Augustine Catholic Church, Armstrong Park and more. www.treme2012.com

Awards & Accolades

  • Southern Living named New Orleans one of the "Tastiest Towns in the South" in its April 2012 issue. The magazine looked at tastemakers, chefs, artisans and restaurants that give each food destination its distinct local flavor, and chose the Top 10 based on categories such as "Food as a cultural identity," "Hot chefs on the rise" and "Abundance of buzz-worthy food events." www.southernliving/tasty
  • According to The Wallstreet Journal's Marketwatch, the New Orleans region was the number one most improved market for business in the United States, rising 44 positions from 77th in 2010 to 33rd in 2011. According to a press release issued by Greater New Orleans Inc., the publication cites many reasons for New Orleans' rapid climb including a top ranking in long-term personal income growth and the area's ranking of 15th in economic output. www.gnoinc.org/news
  • Travel Weekly named New Orleans as one of "America's Best Cities for Hipsters" in their April 2012 issue. The magazine noted the Crescent City's legendary café culture and a rich music and arts scene. www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-cities-for-hipsters/5


Kicking off the New Year, New Orleans hosted the 78th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl, a Saints home playoff game, several Hornets games and the BCS National Championship all within days of each other. This was a tremendous way for New Orleans to start 2012, bringing more than $400 million in economic impact to the city, marking sold-out hotels during peak nights and bringing an influx of people to the area. March 31-April 2, New Orleans played host to the 2012 NCAA Men's Final Four, bringing in an estimated $135 million in that one weekend alone. Three weeks later came the Zurich Classic, drawing professional golfers from all over the world. Sports fans not only enjoyed a newly-renovated Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but also the city's 1,200 restaurants and many music clubs, creating an overall, one-of-a-kind visitor experience. 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.

  • 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. On October 4, 2011, Governor Bobby Jindal joined Saints Owner Tom Benson and key representatives of Mercedes-Benz USA to announce a 10-year agreement reached between the NFL Saints and Mercedes-Benz USA to name the Louisiana Superdome the "Mercedes-Benz Superdome." 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.



  • 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. www.cvent.com
  • 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. www.cntraveler.com/hot-list/2012/hotels
  • 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. frenchquarter.hyatt.com
  • 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. www.hyattplacenewporleansconventioncenter.com
  • 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. www.neworleanshotelcollection.com
  • 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 will open SoBou, their new Modern Creole Saloon at the W French Quarter that showcases innovative design and creative cocktails, on June 25. Short for South of Bourbon Street, SoBou's menu will debut 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. www.wfrenchquarter.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


  • Sweet Olive, located in The Saint Hotel, announced Louisiana native Marcus Woodham as the new Executive Chef. Sweet Olive will be Chef Marcus' fifth restaurant opening. His menu will offer his own creative twist on Louisiana cuisine. www.thesainthotelneworleans.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. Over the five-week engagement, 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). www.neworleans.broadway.com

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. 2-5
  • Whitney White Linen Night/Aug. 4
  • Dirty Linen Night/Aug. 11
  • New Orleans Red Dress Run/Aug. 11
  • Southern Decadence Festival/Aug. 29-Sept. 3
  • New Orleans Seafood Festival/Sept. TBD
  • New Orleans Burlesque Festival/Sept. 13-15
  • New Orleans on Tap Beer Festival/Sept. 29
  • Gretna Heritage Festival/Oct. 5-7
  • Art for Arts' Sake/Oct. 6
  • 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
  • Words and Music Literary Festival/Nov. TBD
  • Oak Street Poboy Festival/Nov. TBD
  • Treme Creole Gumbo Festival/Dec. 8
  • Christmas New Orleans Style/December


Festival Attendance




Mardi Gras

1 million +

1 million

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.

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

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) beginning 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: 1,292 (www.nomenu.com)
  • Airport: As of May 2012; 15,927 average daily seats and 129 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 50th anniversary in 2010. For more information, please visit www.neworleanscvb.com.

Media Contact
Sarah Forman


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