Fall travel numbers for New Orleans are scary good
Don Ames Reporting
After a spike in summer tourism, the number of folks coming to the New Orleans area this fall is looking up, as well.
Fall convention business is booming.
"We're 60 percent up, compared to the fourth quarter of 2012," says Convention and Visitors Bureau spokeswoman Kelly Schulz.
"For the next three month, we're looking at, just in CVB-booked conventions, about 130,000 people coming from all over the world for major medical conventions and this is going to bring about 153 million dollars into the City of New Orleans," says Schulz.
There are 10 such events scheduled for the remainder of 2013. Some of the larger ones include the American Dental Association meeting, which will bring 30,000 attendees to town at the end of October; the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting, which will draw 24,000 attendees in November; and the American Society of Hematology meeting, which will bring another 22,000 folks to New Orleans in December.
And, North America's largest commercial marine tradeshow, the International WorkBoat Show brings some 14,000 people to the Morial Convention Center next week.
"The fourth quarter convention schedule is going to be the strongest fourth quarter that New Orleans has seen since Hurricane Katrina." Schulz says. "And, the 60 percent increase over 2012 is just the conventions booked by the CVB. It's not a complete picture of every single group that books directly with the hotels."
But, it's not just the business people who'll be filling New Orleans' hotels this fall.
"Halloween is now a huge attraction for New Orleans in terms of leisure visitors," says Schulz. "We're getting a lot of great national press about all of our Halloween festivities and New Orleans as a haunted destination."
"The Krewe of Boo is back, Saturday, October 26th. And, you know anything that the Kern family does...you know it's going to be magnificent."
Schulz says Brian Kern's Mardi Gras-style Halloween parade will take place in the French Quarter from 6:30 to 8 o'clock that evening.
It's another 'Only in New Orleans' kind of event. And Voodoo Fest takes place the following weekend.
Could it all help scare up a record year for visitors in the city?
"I hope that it does," says Schulz. "We ended 2012 with 9.1 million visitors, and we're hoping that we're going to exceed that in 2013."
The number of visitors in 2012 was the largest in nearly a decade and an increase of about 3 percent from the previous year.
"Ultimately, we're working towards a larger goal of 13 million visitors by 2018, which is out tricentennial. Those are the numbers that we've worked towards," Schulz says. "Our goal for 2013 is definitely to exceed where we were for 2012."
"We had about 5 million visitors come the first half of 2013. We don't know how the year is going to end, but looking at the first six months of the year...the numbers are very encouraging."
Summer tourism growth in 2012 was attributed largely to Essence Music Festival, which drew more than 400,000 visitors to town in July, and Southern Decadence, which brought another 100,000+ visitors over the Labor Day weekend.