NEW ORLEANS — It is Spring Break in New Orleans and judging from the number of visitors in town, tourism here is on the mend.
It’s quite a different scene from last Spring when the city and hospitality industry shut down because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Darnell and Lanice Peeler from Tampa are celebrating their second wedding anniversary in the Crescent City.
“We wanted to come last year and we weren’t able to come because of the pandemic and this year we said we weren’t going let it keep us from coming,” Darnell said.
“Traveling in general, I feel safer being vaccinated,” Lanice said. “I got both of my shots. Just masking up. Socially distancing.”
Eric Bowlen is taking a vacation from his job as a school principal in Indiana.
“One place that we always wanted to go to is New Orleans,” Bowlen said. “So, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and take a few days and come down here and check off the bucket list.”
Kelly Schultz is from New Orleans and Company, the destination marketing organization for the city.
She says hotel bookings are up and people are ready to travel to New Orleans again.
“We’ve seen a low COVID positivity rate in New Orleans, more vaccine eligibility that pent up demand for travel and also an easing of restrictions and the return of live music” Schultz said.
Tourism leaders know it will take a while for the industry to fully rebound, but they are looking forward to a busy fall in New Orleans.
“We’ve got a lineup of big conventions scheduled to come to the city,” Schultz said. “We’ve got our fall festivals that have been rescheduled from the spring. Things like Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest.”
Visitors tell us being able to travel again gives them hope after a difficult year of COVID-19.
“It’s great to feel the energy and the vibe of the city again from what I remember the last time I was here,” Darnell Peeler said.
“It seems like everybody is wanting to get back out and doing things and we’re just like everybody else,” Bowlen said.
Hotel counts are still being calculated for this past weekend in New Orleans.
But two weekends ago, some of the hotels were seeing as high as 70 percent occupancy in the city.