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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEWORLEANS-- The New Orleans summer travel season finished strong as the Southern Decadence Festival filled local hotels this past weekend.

'We're starting to turn a corner as it relates to New Orleans becoming a summer destination,' said New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation President Mark Romig.

Romig credits a series of niche festivals for growth in summer tourism.

'The festivals have done a good job in bringing people in, not only the drive market, but also from around the country,' he said. 'The Red Dress Run, early in June you have the Tomato, the Zydeco Festival, you've got all these festivals that are springing up on weekends, which are great for the weekends.'

The fall is also looking very promising.

The National Baptist Convention is in town, one day into the important fall convention season. Conventioneers kicked off their four-day event with a family fun mission festival in Central City.

'We don't want to leave all of our money downtown, without making a spiritual impact in the outer surroundings of the downtown area,' said Rev. Gilbert Picket, Home Mission Board Member for the National Baptist Convention.

'It's an awesome experience,' said Pastor Gary Lee Curtis, from the Second Zion Baptist Church in Central City. 'We're looking for for them to make a difference, a change, a most needed change in this community and in this city.'

The NBC brought 18,000 people to New Orleans. The convention is expected to have a $21 million economic impact on the city.

'We are happy to be able to come and be a a boost to the financial community of New Orleans,' said Picket. 'Our hearts went out to the city in terms of what you all went through nine years ago. We're here and happy to see this city is bouncing back.'

Football season is also expected to give tourism a boost this fall.

'When the Saints play at home, we have a great weekend here,' said Romig. 'We've got lots of people who come in. Tulane of course, with its new stadium. People who attend LSU games will generally find their way to New Orleans for the weekend, go to the game and come back.'

The Water Environment Federation is also bringing 18,000 conventioneers to New Orleans later this month.

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