Christmas a tourism success for New Orleans

Christmas a tourism success for New Orleans
December 26, 2011
Don Ames
WWL AM 870

A Saints victory tonight in the Superdome would put a perfect ribbon on this year's New Orleans' Christmas celebration.

Tourism officials say Santa was very good to the city this year.

"The hoteliers that I've spoken to all point to revenue being up in December over the same period last year," says Mark Romig, CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.

"All three weekends, the hotels that I discussed the Christmas New Orleans Style activity with had an excess of 90 percent occupancy which was, I think, largely impacted by the drive markets where we do most of our advertising," says Romig.

He points to some of the city's featured holiday events as an example.

"Cathedral concerts this year were at or above capacity every night. And our new St. Augustine holiday concerts in the Treme were also full."

"In fact," says Romig, "at the beginning of each concert we would ask for a show of hands to see how many people were from out of town, and every night it was about 95 percent of our attendees."

"Christmas New Orleans Style, and this is the 27th year that we have branded New Orleans as a Christmas and New Year's destination, is really paying off in many ways...providing visitation to the city, not only on weekends, but mid-week as well."

He says the city has really branded itself to tourists as an authentic and unique place to spend the holidays.

"I do think that anyone who was down in the downtown or French Quarter area during the month of December and the last several weeks saw an immense number of people enjoying the area, walking the streets, going in and out of the hotels and restaurants. So, it felt very busy. It felt like we had an impact on the numbers here. And I think it points, overall, to a very successful December."

And, the month's not over.

Romig hopes tonight's Monday Night Football game will be a nice post-Christmas gift.

"I think you have a number of Atlanta fans in New Orleans as well as the people, of course, who support our Saints from around our region...from all parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. So, I would expect that you'd see that helping our occupancy tonight in New Orleans. And, the viewers that will be watching us on national television adds to the number of impressions and marketing that we're seeing about New Orleans utilizing all of these national broadcasts."

"Also, we're leading into a huge early January, with the BCS National Championship on the ninth. Of course the weekend of the Sugar Bowl. You also have the Saints game on the first of January and we expect a number of visitors to come in for that game. Of course, the Hornets are now playing a string of home games. So I think this bodes well for what we expect to see in 2012," Romig says.

"We're about to embark upon a string of national events in the city over the next several months leading into 2013 where we'll see the Super Bowl and the Women's Final Four. So, for the next several months into 2013, New Orleans is going to be experiencing, I think, an unprecedented and historic number of events as well as the economic impact that goes along with it."
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