New Orleans officials say 2013 another booming year for tourism


Posted on December 30, 2013 at 11:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 31 at 11:25 AM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Hosting another Super Bowl and reaching the 13 million visitors mark are just some of the goals New Orleans city and tourism officials are aiming for in the next few years.

"I've never been here before and I grew up in the south. It was on the list of the places I wanted to go to," said Rebecca Seung, who was drawn from Alabama to the Crescent City to ring in the new year.

The sounds, sights and flavors of the French Quarter also beckoned to Bhaskar Jaieswal and his friends from Indiana.

"We quickly browsed on the Internet and saw New Orleans was a the best place to be for New Year's Eve," Jaieswal.

On Monday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu held a news conference touting 2013 as a booming tourism year for the City.

"Its a $5 billion piece of our economy and represents over 80,000 jobs for the men and women in this metropolitan area," said Landrieu of the tourism and hospitality industries.

The mayor's office highlighted achievements at the news conference: more than 400 festivals, events, parades and markets in just the first half of 2013, along with a 5 million visitor count during the same time period. City officials also say the 2013 Super Bowl created a $480 million impact. Essence Festival reached record breaking numbers, drawing 540,000 visitors to town.

Local businesses are benefiting from those numbers.

"We're looking forward to 2014. I think we're going to do very well also," said Zeid Ammari who oversees operations at Kingfish.

The French Quarter restaurant opened its doors to patrons this past spring. Ammari said it's been a stellar year for the company's group of eight restaurants with tourists helping boost business.

"We've seen overall as a company we have a 13 percent sales increase which is phenomenal over 2012," Ammari said.

Landrieu and tourism officials hope to attract 13 million visitors in time for the City's 300th anniversary celebration in 2018. They're also in the process of bidding for Super Bowl 2018 with a final presentation expected this spring.