New Orleans tourism recovery continues

New Orleans is seeing a strong recovery in visitor numbers after it was almost wiped off the map by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has revealed the city received 7.1 million international visitors in 2007, almost double the 3.7 million people who visited the city in 2006.

Now UK operators are beginning to see a recovery in their own figures following the hurricane which caused $100 billion of damage and killed around 1,600 people when 80% of the city was flooded.

Premier Holidays general manager America, Canada and Caribbean Heidi Blades said while its overall sales to the city last year were 21% less than those in 2006, this year already the operator is just 3% behind the total number of sales during the whole of 2007.

She added: “We’re seeing a lot of tailor-made self-drive packages for the region including New Orleans. Now the city has been rejuvenated people want to go back and see it in its glory.

“It’s probably better than it was before it’s been cleaned up as have a lot of the hotels.”

Cosmos Tourama head of coach product David Binns said sales to date this year are about 45% ahead of where they were this time last year. He expects the year to close with the operator doing around two thirds of the amount of business it did before the hurricane struck.

He added: “People are no longer expecting to go and see masses of destruction and they realise the key tourist areas are back up and running.”

Head of product USA and Canada Angus Bond said: “New Orleans has seen good recovery and growth post Katrina, especially in the touring market. Early predictors for this year indicate that it’s back on the map for us as a viable destination choice.”

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