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New Year's weekend a busy time for New Orleans tourism

The holiday weekend was a final burst of tourism in a year that saw New Orleans re-enter the spotlight as a travel destination.

NEW ORLEANS — Much like the rain Monday afternoon, patrons at Tap Dat Bar and Grill in the French Quarter were come and go.

“The crowd right now, I need this break,” worker Chad Leufroy said. “It was a busy weekend.”

Leufroy says his view of Bourbon Street while working long hours over the New Year’s weekend was a steady crowd of people, that flowed right up to his bar.

“Full street, full bar, just love,” Leufroy said. “Everybody having too much fun which is not a bad thing.”

Tourism leaders hope all that fun puts a punctuation mark behind a year of what tourism leaders say has been a resurgence in New Orleans’ tourism industry, beginning with Mardi Gras.

“We went right into the NCAA Men’s Final Four, our Spring festival season, the return of Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest,” said Kelly Schulz with New Orleans and Company.

Schulz says the return of big conventions, Essence Fest and Bayou Classic have all brought tourists back to the city after a crippling blow from the pandemic.

“That shows that there’s a lot of excitement about New Orleans, a lot of interest in the city,” Schulz said.

At Unique NOLA Tours, co-owner Monique Hamilton is on the front lines of tourism.

“It’s nice meeting all these people coming in here. You get to hear their stories,” Hamilton said.

Her seven tours a day over the holiday weekend were filled with people from out of town, most visiting for the Sugar Bowl.

“Last year was busier and it was all just people wanting it to get out of the house, go do something instead of being cooped up. This year people are more conscious of what they’re spending,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton says with a new year, comes a new outlook.

“I think this year is going to be great. I already see signs of it coming in. We’re getting phone calls for clear up to May right now,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got bookings for Halloween already.”

Tourism leaders expect time will get economic numbers back to pre-pandemic levels. In the meantime, it’s about allowing the tourism industry, and its workers, to recover.

“My back hurts, my feet hurt,” Leufroy joked as he talked about the weekend. “It was insane.”

Tourism leaders say the next big important event is the Miss Universe competition. It’ll be held in New Orleans on January 14 and airs in more than 160 territories and countries around the world. Tourism leaders hope that keeps New Orleans on the global stage and attract more international visitors.

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