There is a “growing demand for the New Orleans experience,” according to Kristian Sonnier of New Orleans and Company.
At IPW 2018 in Denver, New Orleans took the opportunity to showcase a bit of its past, take a look at where it presently stands and look forward to an exciting future.
The city is coming off of its 8th-consecutive record-breaking year for tourism, and 2018 is going even better with a city-wide, year-long celebration of everything that makes New Orleans great. 300 years ago, the French colonized the city of New Orleans, and its unique history has coalesced into a singular experience with French, Spanish and Caribbean influences that is uniquely American.
In addition to official tricentennial celebrations like the Fleur De Lis drop, every single festival (in a city that has a festival every three days on average) has been encouraged to include mentions of the tricentennial. This has included visits from foreign dignitaries and even the presentation of artifacts relevant to New Orleans history that hadn’t ever left French or Spanish soil in the past.
“You will not escape our city,” Sonnier said, “without being reminded of our tricentennial.”
A city with such a rich history and growing demand for tourism is a city that demands some changes, and the city is responding to that demand.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is currently undergoing a billion-dollar construction project that will not only fix infrastructure issues but will transform the way people enter the city.
“As soon as you’re wheels down,” Sonnier said, “you’ll feel like you’re in a special place.”
The reimagining includes a uniquely New Orleans feel—something that’s been noticeably missing from the airport—with new concessions from New Orleans, James Beard Award-winning chefs and live music.
Because, wonderfully, New Orleans rarely does anything without great food and music.
The convention center, too, has been a bit of a faceless, cultureless feature in the city—known has much for its vast size as anything. That will also be changing in a major way with a refresh beginning with a Phase 1, $60 million project to change the frontage for the center and a Phase 2 that will add an anchor hotel and more commerce between the convention center and the water.
Meanwhile, the hotel inventory in the city is expanding both in terms of quantity and in terms of diversity.
The upcoming Hard Rock Hotel is a great example of the cool, millennial-focused spaces that New Orleans is seeing a massive increase in, while the new Higgins Hotel being built by the National World War 2 Museum is opening in the summer of 2019 and will transform the skyline of the city.
The new Four Seasons may be the hotel the city is most excited about, however, thanks to a $450 million project to transform the city’s World Trade Center into an amazing hotel space that, according to Sonnier, is going to transform how that part of the city—adjacent to Harrah’s Casino and the French Quarter—is going to be used.
Sonnier also touched on the name change from New Orleans Convention and Visitor Bureau, covered previously on TravelPulse.
“There are many layers to ‘company,” Sonnier said. “To us, it means our stakeholders. It’s a big universe that we’re stewards of. As tourism grows, we wanted to make sure we didn’t diminish what people come to New Orleans to enjoy. It’s our culture that sets us apart.”
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