New Orleans' tourism outlook soars with increased airport traffic
Don Ames Reporting
Mark Romig, President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, says the most recent report of air traffic at Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is promising news.
The number of passengers traveling through the airport increased in 2013 for the fourth year in a row, with more than 9.2 million passengers using the facility. That's up by more than 600,000 passengers, or 7.1 percent, from 2012.
"I think it speaks well for New Orleans continuing to be looked at as a really solid destination, for not only the leisure traveler, but also the group and convention travelers," says Romig.
The increase in New Orleans air traffic trended well above national changes, and beat out large markets including Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas. Six out of the top 10 largest airports in the U.S. saw drops in the number of passengers that they serve.
"So, I think it's a good precursor to how the city is going to look for us in 2014," Romig says.
"As the city remains and continues to increase in popularity, you're getting a number of people opting to fly into the city and take advantage of decent fares, good connections and non-stop flights."
New Orleans has 42 non-stop flights and 32 of them saw increases in capacity in 2013 over 2012, according to the airport.
Scheduled domestic flights accounted for the majority of the increase.
"Tourism, and our efforts to approach individuals to come and travel to New Orleans is really the first step in 'The Brain Game'," says Romig. "We need people to come see the city, visit the city, understand the city and how authentic we are and the richness of living here...and than, make that decision to actually locate here."
And, Romig notes that the area is just now entering the 'Festival Season.'
"Mardi Gras kicks off a period of several months where there is a festival, literally every weekend and sometimes two or three, and we'll continue to see folks flocking to the city."
"And, they're not only exploring what we call the typical parts of our hospitality offerings like the French Quarter and the riverfront," says Romig. "They're branching out, enjoying and seeing things in the Bywater, Uptown on Magazine Street, Mid-City, and the lakefront. And that helps us spread the visitor spending around the city so that more of our retail outlets enjoy the visitors' spending."
"It bodes well, and so I believe we're in for a very strong and positive period of time over the next several months."
New service already announced for next year at Armstrong International includes nonstop flights to Seattle and charter flights to Jamaica.
The new terminal is scheduled to be completed by 2018 to coincide with New Orleans' 300th anniversary.