The tourist scene is so robust in the New Orleans area that it’s easy to find a lot to cheer about even in the meteorological hot season.
We like the trends and hope to see them go on.
The agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines just announced will keep at least two ships sailing out of the Port of New Orleans year-round through 2019, continuing a wonderful tradition of providing two vacations in one — New Orleans and the ships’ destinations.
The new agreement supersedes a 2013 three-year extension and offers three one-year options that could guarantee Carnival homeports in the city through 2022.
The Erato Street Cruise Terminal was recently renovated to accommodate the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream, which arrived in April and sails seven-day eastern and western Caribbean cruises. The Carnival Elation sails four- and five-day cruises to Mexico.
Together, the two ships carry more than 400,000 passengers annually from New Orleans — the most of any cruise line. A study by Cruise Lines International Association found that spending by Carnival and other cruise operators in Louisiana tops $399 million, generating 7,548 jobs and $294 million in personal income. CLIA also ranked New Orleans the sixth-largest cruise port in the United States.
We’ll lose one liner, in April 2015 from Royal Caribbean, but the cruise business is still a good one for our year-round tourist economy.
Of course, the Carnival extension comes on the heels of a fabulous summer party, Essence. The 20th anniversary of this terrific event brought a record-breaking 550,000 attending its series of events — sometimes serious cultural experiences, but not least tremendously received concerts by top entertainers.
That’s a huge economic impact, and as Mayor Mitch Landrieu noted, it comes at what used to be a slow weekend in the summer for visitor business.
New Orleans and Louisiana benefit from that exposure and the experience, and its economic impact is surely not overlooked in the Crescent City region.
Obviously, not every summer event is positive, as the Bourbon Street shooting demonstrated. As the mayor says, the murder rate is lower than it has been for many years, but security is one of the fundamentals for a robust tourist economy.
In a meeting with editors and reporters of The New Orleans Advocate, the mayor recalled that he commissioned a study when he was lieutenant governor that listed major goals for boosting area tourism. No. 1 on the list was security, and that issue remains before us, particularly in a long hot summer.
But it’s been a good summer, also, and that good news should not be overlooked.