TOURISM INDUSTRY SCORES VICTORY WITH SUCCESSFUL CONVENTION -- 06/28/2006
Office of Lieutenant GovernorFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2006
TOURISM INDUSTRY SCORES VICTORY WITH SUCCESSFUL CONVENTION
LG Landrieu Thanks American Library Association for Joining in Louisiana's Rebirth
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Building on the great success of the American Library Association's (ALA) Annual Convention, which brought an estimated 18,000 attendees to New Orleans and made a projected economic impact of well over $20 million, Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu and tourism leaders offered an update on Louisiana's tourism industry. As the first major convention hosted in the city since Hurricane Katrina, the ALA conference signified a major milestone in Louisiana's recovery.
"We're here today to stick our flag in the ground and declare victory for the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans." Landrieu said. "We are claiming victory because nine months ago, immediately after Hurricane Katrina, we got together as an industry, determined to speak with one voice and to stand up the business of tourism. We developed a strategic plan, Louisiana Rebirth, and we are hitting the marks established in that plan."
Tourism and the cultural industries employ 13 percent of the state's workforce and are key to the economic vitality of Louisiana. Prior to Katrina, tourism was a $9.6 billion industry, accounting for 126,000 jobs.
Landrieu added, "New Orleans is a tale of two cities, and we accept our responsibility to help drive this economy and generate revenue for the city and state."
ALA President Michael Gorman called the conference a "smashing success." Gorman noted that 35 organizations were monitoring this conference to determine if New Orleans was up for the challenge and said, "Unless those people are crazy, they are going back to their associations and telling them that New Orleans is a wonderful place to have a convention."
Stephen Perry, President/ CEO, New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau said, "This marks the reopening of New Orleans convention business. And what this gave us was the opportunity to show the world that we have the ability to put on a major convention."
Standing in the Atrium of the Morial Convention Center, Jimmie Fore, President/ General Manager of the center said, "This was our first convention after $60 million plus worth of renovation work. Our convention center has new colors, new equipment, new furniture, new everything. You'll never know how excited we were to see those first convention goers. Our staff wanted to do the best job possible, and we did it."
Doug Thornton, General Manager of the Louisiana Superdome and the New Orleans Arena, previewed the next major milestone for the tourism industry, stating, "We're looking forward to the fall opening of the Superdome, where we will be inviting guests back to our home just as the convention center has done so beautifully. On Monday, September 25, 2006, for Monday Night Football, we will welcome the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons for our grand reopening of the renovated facility."
Thornton reported that the renovation was on track and that the roof decking at the Superdome will be completed by July 1, one month ahead of schedule.
Not only did the ALA bring tourist dollars to the city thus helping the New Orleans economy, ALA members took part in the rebuild as well. The ALA has taken their long history of serving communities to a new level as they assist in rebuilding New Orleans. Many of the groups' members were involved in different projects to help New Orleans' recovery, including the "extreme makeover" of the New Orleans Public Library Children's Resource Center. The convention also brought former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and First Lady Laura Bush to New Orleans as featured speakers.
At today's press conference, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu was joined by the following: Michael Gorman, President, American Library Association; Stephen Perry, President/ CEO, New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau; Toni Rice, President, Multicultural Tourism Network; Doug Thornton, General Manager, Louisiana Superdome/ New Orleans Arena; Jimmie Fore, President/ General Manager, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center; Sean Hunter, Interim Director of the New Orleans Aviation Board; Sandy Shilstone, President/ CEO, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation; and Bill Langkopp, Executive Vice President, Louisiana Hotel and Lodging Association.
To schedule interviews with Lt. Governor Landrieu and to learn more about Louisiana's culture and tourism, please contact Emily Sneed at 225.223.0045 or visit www.louisianatravel.com.