What's New in New Orleans

What's New in New Orleans' Hospitality Industry


      • The city of New Orleans welcomed 9.52 million visitors in 2014 who spent a record-breaking $6.81 billion, according to a University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center Study commissioned by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC). The spending is the highest in the city's history, more than doubling post-Katrina numbers from 2006.
      • New Orleans will be the homeport for Viking River Cruises' first North American River Cruise. The European cruise giant will begin cruising the Mississippi River from New Orleans in 2017 with six new American-made vessels. 
      • American Cruise Lines is expanding its offering of river cruises from New Orleans with a second riverboat to be home-ported in New Orleans. The 150-passenger American Eagle will embark on its maiden voyage on April 11, 2015 and will offer eight-day itineraries between New Orleans and Memphis. 
      • Carnival Cruise Line will expand its cruising capacity in New Orleans, replacing the Carnival Triumph with the Carnival Elation in April 2016. The Carnival Triumph and the Carnival Dream are expected to carry a combined 450,000 guests from New Orleans annually, the most of any cruise line. 
      • Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra's New Orleans Jazz Market is debuting in March 2015. The new facility, located in the former Gators Department Store, will serve as a performance space and feature music education experiences, a New Orleans Jazz archive and tributes to current and past Jazz Masters. 
      • New Orleans Entrepreneur Week will return to New Orleans March 20-27, 2015 for Idea Village's 2015 Entrepreneur Season. This year's Entrepreneur Week provides for 87 percent more local founders to showcase their ideas than 2014's show and is expected to bring more than 10,000 attendees for three days of interactive seminars, energy and innovation summit and a crowd-sourced pitch event. The 2014 Entrepreneur Season brought $2.2 million in resources to 834 New Orleans-based startups. 
      • The 32nd annual French Quarter Festival has announced the lineup for this year's festival, which will return to the New Orleans April 9-12, 2015. More than 1,600 artists will grace the stages, including Allen Toussaint, Rebirth Brass Band, Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Kermit Ruffins, Charmaine Neville, Irma Thomas and many more. Two new stages have been added to the festival at the Omni New Orleans Riverfront and Spanish Plaza at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk for a total of 23 stages. 
      • Emeril's New Orleans, the original flagship of Chef Emeril Lagasse, is celebrating 25 years in the Crescent City in 2015. The restaurant will host a variety of events to commemorate the anniversary, including special "Throwback Menus" and a trio of dinners. 
      • The newly renovated Desire Oyster Bar at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans Hotel has reopened with a new menu crafted by Executive Chef Corey Jacobs. The restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.




      • The Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, the premier American-based open-wheel racing series, will race in the New Orleans area for the first time on April 12, 2015. The open-wheel race will take place at NOLA Motorsports Park's 2.75-mile road course in Avondale, Louisiana, approximately 14 miles southwest of downtown New Orleans. The $60 million NOLA Motorsports Park opened in 2011.
      • NOLA Navy Week will return to the Downtown New Orleans riverfront April 23-29, bringing a Navy fleet and sailors from around the world to the port city. Visiting ships will be open for public viewing, and other activities will include official visits among regional dignitaries and Navy leadership, visiting sailors engaged in friendly sporting competitions, a seafood cook-off and regional outreach and community service projects by visiting sailors. 
      • The Orpheum Theater, a historic vertical theater in the heart of New Orleans Theater District, is currently undergoing a $13 million renovation and is slated to reopen in the fall of 2015. Originally opened in 1921, the Orpheum has over 1,500 seats, each offering an intimate experience with perfect sight lines and unparalleled acoustics. 
      • Performances of Broadway in New Orleans' Once will take place March 17-22 at the Saenger Theatre. The last show of the season is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (April 14-19). 
      • The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival will kick off with an ambitious schedule from March 25-29, bringing five days of master classes, panelist discussions, celebrity interviews, competitions, theater events and more to New Orleans. Participants include John Waters, Saeed Jones, Amy Dickinson, Rick Bragg and many more. In 2015 the Saints and Sinners LGBT literary festival will merge with the Tennessee Williams Festival, celebrating the literary arts concurrently.
      • New Orleans Airlift and the Helis Foundation have announced a new Music Box Series, bringing interactive and kinetic musical structures as well as performances, artist talks, educational workshops and free interactive hours to the city of New Orleans during 2015. The first residency will be "The Music Box Roving Village" in City Park April 3-May 10 with orchestral performances by local and national musicians in the musical houses
      • The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is embarking on an ambitious new venture that will revitalize the City's riverfront. The Convention Center District Development Project, situated on 47 acres upriver from the Center, calls for construction of a new "headquarters" hotel, a linear park along Convention Center Boulevard, outdoor entertainment, arts and cultural venues and new retail and housing options. 
      • The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) has broken ground on its anticipated French Quarter streetcar expansion. The 2.5-mile segment will run from Canal Street along Rampart Street until Rampart changes to St. Claude and continue to Press Street in the Bywater neighborhood. In addition, a segment will turn off St. Claude down Elysian Fields Avenue toward the river and tie in with the existing Riverfront streetcar line.



      • New Orleans wrapped up a successful Mardi Gras season, welcoming more than one million visitors to the celebrations, which culminated on February 17. Hotel occupancy was up from 2014, with even more visitors choosing to stay for Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras day over the long weekend. The Mardi Gras season has an economic impact of more than $500 million.
      • The Bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans took place January 8, 2015. In commemoration, a host of events occurred, including Wreath Laying Ceremonies, re-enactments, a 10K race, symposiums and more. The celebrations culminate in culminate in NOLA Navy Week April 20-27.



                For a full list of festivals, click here.


      Meetings (3,000 or more in attendance) include:

      • Worldwide Spirit Association | Mar. 6-7
      • Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) | Mar. 7-11
      • American Contract Bridge League | Mar. 12-21
      • NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education | Mar. 20-21
      • National Art Education Association | Mar. 20-21

                For a full list of conventions, click here.



      • Travel + Leisure named New Orleans the number one "Quirkiest City in America" based on its celebratory culture and history of voodoo.
      • Readers of Condé Nast Traveler voted New Orleans the number one "U.S. City for Business Travelers" based on friendliness, value, walkability and its 1,400 restaurants.
      • New Orleans CVB President and CEO Stephen Perry has been named one of New Orleans CityBusiness' "Driving Forces" of the New Orleans business scene based on achievements since Hurricane Katrina. 
      • Ebony magazine named New Orleans named New Orleans one of its "14 Top Travel Spots for 2015" for its vibrant culture and links to the Caribbean. 
      • Readers of Mashable.com have named New Orleans one of their "Top U.S. Destinations" for travel in 2015 in a survey that included more than 1,000 participants in 40 countries. 
      • New Orleans was named one of the most popular destinations for Valentine's Day 2015 by Priceline.com based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults this January. 
      • TripAdvisor.com named New Orleans one of the top "13 Destinations to Book Your Next Adventure" based on its vacation rental properties and attractions. 
      • In January 2015, The New York Times named New Orleans one of its "52 Places to Go in 2015," which proposes untraveled destinations as well as familiar cities offering travelers new reasons to visit this year. 
      • Explorica.com, a travel site for educators and students, named New Orleans one of the "Top 15 Destinations for 2015," celebrating new educational destinations.



      • The Wyndham New Orleans-French Quarter has completed its multi-million dollar renovation, which included 374 guest rooms as well as the building's exterior and improvements to the parking garage. 
      • The Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery will open spring 2015 in the Warehouse District. Formerly the Ambassador Hotel, renovations are expanding the total room count to 167 and will highlight rustic details like exposed brick walls and hardwood floors. Old No. 77 has partnered with New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) to feature student artwork throughout the property and provide a copy of Umbra, NOCCA's creative writing publication, in each guestroom to inform and enhance guests' experience of New Orleans. 
      • The Aloft New Orleans Downtown, HRI Lodging's newest property, is scheduled to open in New Orleans' Central Business District in March 2015. The Aloft will offer 188 guest rooms, 2,500 square feet of meeting space, a bar and more. The hotel will accompany 192 apartments in the same building dubbed the Strand Apartments.



      • Chef Tom Wolfe has been appointed executive chef of the Rib Room Restaurant at Omni Royal Orleans. With more than 20 years of industry experience at some of New Orleans' finest restaurants, Wolfe will showcase his expertise with contemporary take on traditional New Orleans cuisine.
      • Antoine's Restaurant is celebrating 175 years of French Creole culinary traditions in 2015. In commemoration of this prestigious anniversary, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in America and birthplace of Oysters Rockefeller will host special events, present new menus and bring its celebrations beyond the French Quarter.
      • Grand Isle Restaurant is welcoming new Executive Chef Ryan Haigler to its kitchen this March. A veteran of Restaurant R'Evolution and the inaugural tour of Dinner Lab, Haigler will whip up modern interpretations of fresh seafood dishes.



      • Copa Airlines and Louis Armstrong International Airport have announced a new nonstop flight between New Orleans and Panama beginning June 24, 2015. The flight will offer the only direct airline service between the two cities and will run four times weekly, offering easier access to the U.S. for South American travelers.
      • Louis Armstrong International Airport has surpassed pre-Katrina passenger numbers, serving 9,785,394 passengers in 2014 and surpassing the 2004 total of 9,733,178 passengers. With 14 airlines providing service to 46 nonstop destinations, the airport is serving the most nonstop destinations in its history. 
      • According to a study commissioned by the New Orleans Aviation Board, Louis Armstrong International Airport contributed more than $5.3 billion in economic impact and sustained more than 53,300 jobs in Greater New Orleans in 2013. The airport's economic impact is projected to grow to more than $6.3 billion with 64,400 jobs with the completion of the new terminal in 2018. 
      • For the fifth consecutive year, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has experienced an amazing increase in passenger volume and is the fastest growing airport in the U.S. According to the 2014 statistical summary, the airport moved 9,785,394 passengers in 2014, surpassing pre-Katrina numbers of 9,733,178 in 2004 for the first time. The 6.3 percent increase in 2014 is credited in large part to the growth of the New Orleans region as a top flight destination for leisure, conventions and business. Today, the millions of passengers traveling from New Orleans can select one of fourteen airlines presently operating on three concourses at the airport for their air travel needs. 
      • Mayor Mitch Landrieu, along with the New Orleans Aviation Board and regional elected, business and tourism leaders, announced plans to build a new, state-of-the-art airport terminal on the north side of the current airport property. The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport serves as a gateway to millions of tourists and business travelers each year. Creating a new airport will continue New Orleans' success as a world-class destination, along with creating more than 13,000 jobs in construction.

      Recently Announced Flights:

      • Allegiant Air (Nonstop departures to Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis and Orlando beginning February 2015)
      • Vacation Express (One new weekly departure to Punta Cana March-August 2015, Multiple weekly departures to Cancun March-August 2015) 
      • Branson AirExpress (Three new nonstop departures to Cancun, Mexico and Branson, Missouri beginning May 6, 2015)
      • Southwest Airlines (One new daily departure to Oakland, California, June 2015) 
      • Copa Airlines (One new nonstop departure to Panama four times weekly June 24, 2015)



      • Port of New Orleans cruise terminals welcomed more than one million passengers in 2014, setting a new record. The cruise industry supports more than 8,000 jobs in New Orleans and spends $406 million in Louisiana.



      • 2014: 9.52 million visitors | $6.81 billion (highest visitor spending in city's history)
      • 2013: 9.28 million visitors | $6.47 billion 
      • 2012: 9.01 million visitors | $6 billion 
      • 2011: 8.75 million visitors | $5.47 billion 
      • 2010: 8.3 million visitors | $5.3 billion 
      • 2009: 7.5 million visitors | $4.2 billion 
      • 2008: 7.6 million | $5.1 billion
      • 2007: 7.1 million | $4.8 billion 
      • 2006: 3.7 million | $2.8 billion
      • 2005: July-December: stats not available
      • 2005: January-June: 5.3 million | $2.6 billion
      • 2004: 10.1 million | $4.9 billion
      • 2003: 8.5 million | $4.5 billion
      • Taxes: $250-300 million in tax revenues ... more than any other business sector
      • Economic impact of tourism: $6.47 billion
      • Employment: More than 80,000 
      • Hotels: 277 and 37,844 hotel rooms in the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area
      • Restaurants: 1,407 (www.nomenu.com
      • Airport: 18,558 average daily seats and 140 average daily departures serving 46 non-stop destinations

      The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau is a nationally accredited, 1,100-member destination marketing organization and the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. The CVB and its members influence thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose New Orleans through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services at our New Orleans headquarters and offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago and four foreign countries. Consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country, the New Orleans CVB celebrated its 55th anniversary in 2015.

      For more information, please visit www.neworleanscvb.com, follow us on Twitter (@NewOrleansCVB), ‘like' us on Facebook (New Orleans).


      Media Contacts:
      Sarah Forman

      Kelley Pettus

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