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Small Businesses in New Orleans Still Feeling the Pain of Slow Tourism Return

28 December 2006

It is unfortunate that more than 15 months after Katrina, tourism is still way down and small businesses are suffering. Despite pubilicity that a number of conventions returned this fall to the area, the truth is that small businesses rely on the leisure traveler much more than the convention attendee. According to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, more than 70% of the total visitor traffic to the city pre-Katrina was the leasure/pleasure guest, the folks that come to enjoy the venues, the food and the music. These are the individuals who patronize the shops, go on tours and stay in the boutique hotels and Bed and Breakfasts. Conventioneers customarily book the larger hotels and spend a majority of their time in the hotel or convention center attending meetings and seminars. They do spend time in the restaurants, but are not here primarily to “enjoy” the sights and sound of New Orleans. Based on the trend since the storm, the leasure market is off by more than 50%, a devestating decline from pre-Katrina numbers.

Lots of volunteers have come to New Orleans since the storm with the desire to help those effected. Their focus has been to assist homeowners clean-up and rebuild their lives. Few seem to relate their volunteerism to the need for helping those who have already re-established themselves and now depend on the local economy to survive.

The best thing the average American can do is to plan a trip to New Orleans in 2007. Come visit, enjoy the hospitality, the history, the charm and of course, the food and music. Spend a few dollars on tours, sightseeing and museums. Buy something to take home as a remembrance of your visit. Getting the tourism dollar churning in this weak local tourism economy will ensure that the culture and magnificance that is New Orleans is preserved for the future. And your contribution of a vacation here will surely brighten the lives of the local small business owners. For more information about the small business challenge go to this Times-Picayune article. ?

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