10 years after Katrina, New Orleans' tourism industry reborn

Posted on: August 12 2015

By: The Associated Press August 11, 2015 

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the city’s tourism has not only rebounded. It’s practically been reinvented.

New Orleans had just 3.7 million visitors in 2006, the first full year after Katrina. Last year, there were 9.5 million visitors. The city has 600 more restaurants than 10 years ago. And hotel occupancy rates are higher than they were before the levees broke Aug. 29, 2005, flooding 80 percent of the city and killing hundreds.

Attractions have blossomed beyond classics like the French Quarter, Garden District and The National World War II Museum. Today’s must-sees include the hipster Bywater neighborhood, the new Crescent Park along the Mississippi River and a rebuilt historic market, St. Roch, that was destroyed by the flood. Bourbon Street is still packed with tourists, and live music once more spills out of seemingly every door on Frenchmen Street in the nearby Marigny neighborhood. But now visitors flock to the art houses on St. Claude Avenue too.

“It’s a fantastic time to go there,” said Diana Schwam, author of the travel guidebook “Frommer’s EasyGuide to New Orleans.” ”The post-Katrina energy that has emerged is insane. It’s just really fun and exciting.”

Scott Berman, U.S. hospitality & leisure practice leader at accounting firm PwC, noted that New Orleans was not only a leisure tourist destination but also one of the country’s biggest convention destinations. “The group business has come back, too,” Berman said, adding that the city’s challenges were not limited to rebuilding post-Katrina: “Their rebirth has also come post-recession.”

Here’s a look at New Orleans’ tourism comeback, including new attractions and Katrina commemoration plans.

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