Tourism officials relish good news for their industry

Posted on: June 7 2012
Daily rates up, tourists are all smiles and the industry is happy.

Jun 06, 2012 6:39 PM
Written by: Sabrina Wilson- WDSU TV

New Orleans, La. — Local tourism leaders are thrilled about the national attention the city's tourism industry continues to receive.

New Orleans has been ranked the top hotel market and this comes on the heels of other positive news about the visitor industry.

"It's a fantastic place, I love coming down here," said Frank Dye as he and his wife strolled outside the Hilton Hotel near the riverfront.

Their stay comes as New Orleans received the top hotel ranking in a report by Smith Travel Research.

Average daily hotel rates are up 12 percent from April 2011.

"I just come out of Miami two weeks ago, and it's about the same, really, as far as hotel rates, but if you plan well you'll be all right," said Derrick Easter, another tourist.

"They're comparable to anywhere else, you know. Everything has gone up over the years," said Judy Dye.

Hotels tend to drop rates when tourists are scarce, so the fact that rates have risen is a good indicator of the city's robust tourism business. And lately, the city has been getting a lot of good tourism news.

"It means that New Orleans is really on a roll. These awards and recognition really do mean a lot because they're coming from visitors, they're coming from frequent travelers, and tourism is an industry that's very much based on perception and image," said Kelly Schulz of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In February, the Big Easy was even named one of the best cities for dating.

"We've been named just in 2012 a top city for shopping, for dating, for hipsters, for gay travel," Schulz continued.

Of course, the Essence Music Festival always helps to fill up hotel rooms in early July, and tourism officials said that other major conferences will give summertime tourism a big boost.

"June and July are going to be really good for conventions this year. And many of the summer conventions, those people will choose to stay on for a couple of days," stated Schulz.

The city is stacking up accolades in advance of hosting next year's Super Bowl, despite disparaging comments from an ESPN commentator about the city's crime problem.

"Fortunately his opinion is not what we heard from the thousands of people who came here for BCS and for NCAA, and all of the event organizers like the NFL that are telling us, you know, we love New Orleans," Schulz continued.

"Yes, you have a lot of stuff going on down here, and you always do. So wherever you got tourists coming… they're going to always raise the [hotel] rates," said Easter.

"Actually, it's a little cheaper I think than San Francisco," said Frank Dye.