Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Orleans wants you back ...

From Jessie Halladay and The Courier-Journal:

… a visit to the Big Easy is different now.

Crowds are smaller. Getting a table at Cafe Du Monde for a batch of melt-in-your-mouth beignets covered in powdered sugar isn't quite as tough, and you can make your way down Bourbon Street with much less jostling.

Convention business is only 40 percent of what it was before Katrina struck in August 2005. Rooms are often easier to book, and many hotels run specials, making staying in New Orleans a cheaper prospect than before. Louis Armstrong International Airport now offers 109 flights a day to 32 cities. That's 75 percent of pre-hurricane flights.

But despite the changes, much of what tourists loved about New Orleans still exists.

In the city's beloved French Quarter, few signs of destruction linger. Streets remain lined with shops waiting to cater to eager travelers. Tarot card readers promise a glimpse into the future. Artists aim to capture the image of your vacation in just moments of sketching. Circus-like entertainers still wow crowds with their acrobatics.

Along Bourbon Street, bars with flashing lights and blaring music offer a host of frozen concoctions, from the ever-popular (if ironic) Hurricane to pina coladas…

In 2004, a record 10.1 million people visited New Orleans, according to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Before Katrina, the city was on pace for another record year. But in 2006, the bureau estimates, only about 40 percent of leisure travelers have returned to the city.

"Our biggest challenge is still perception of the city," said Kelly Schulz, who works with the visitors bureau. Some people are coming to the city to help, turning their trips into a working vacation that has become known as "voluntourism." Schulz said many conventions are building in a public service component to their visit.

Church groups and students on spring break, for instance, have come to do volunteer work and take in some of the attractions at the same time.

"If you want to help New Orleans, the best thing you can do is come here as a tourist," Schulz said.

For some visitors, the destruction itself has become part of the tour. Buses routinely drive through the ravaged 9th Ward, showing people where the levees broke. Schulz said while that practice has offended some residents, she encourages visitors to see the damage the hurricane left the city to contend with, because it will shape the future of the Crescent City.

A big part of the recovery will be thanks to tourist dollars. And because of that, visitors are often treated to an extra dose of friendliness from grateful New Orleanians.

"The New Orleans that people know and love… all that stuff is still here," Schulz said. "And in some cases, the experience will be even better."


jbv's Competitive Edge 


Blogger Nadine said...

FYI- thought you would be interested:




CHICAGO, IL and ALEXANDRIA,VA March 7, 2007 – Volunteer during your next vacation! Some recharge their inner spirit by lying on a beach for a week; however travelers are learning that volunteering for a worthy cause is the best way to revive a weary soul. (, a leading discount online travel agency, and United Way of America (, the nation’s largest charitable organization, today announced the launch of a new website to support consumers who want to book a volunteer vacation and be part of the growing trend of “vacationing with a purpose.” The new website ( is accessible from both the home page and United Way’s web site (

Volunteer vacations are a growing trend among individuals seeking to give back during their time away from work and home. Travelers can dedicate a full week to their volunteer vacation of choice or simply take a day or two out of an already pre-planned getaway.

Through this new website, CheapTickets and United Way will focus on travel to communities across America to help people in areas of need. The organizations will also educate and arm travelers with information about volunteer opportunities available across United Way’s national network of over 1300 local United Ways.

“CheapTickets customers want the opportunity to support communities like New Orleans with their volunteer efforts during the day, while experiencing attractions like Bourbon Street’s jazz clubs and restaurants by night,” said Steven Barnhart, president and Chief Financial Officer of Orbitz Worldwide, which operates the CheapTickets brand. “We’re proud the United Way chose us to encourage travelers to volunteer throughout America, and equally proud that our organization is announcing an employee program to support this worthwhile mission, led by CheapTickets and the United Way.”

Orbitz Worldwide, a division of Travelport, Inc., is announcing to its employees today plans to support this core value in partnership with the United Way. Details to be announced.

“Volunteers are an essential part of what United Way does and how we make a difference in communities across America,” stated Brian Gallagher, President and CEO, United Way of America. “One important new trend in volunteerism is ‘volunteer vacations,’ where volunteers travel to a location in need and spend anywhere from a few days to a few months on a project. United Way is pleased to partner with CheapTickets to promote these unique volunteer opportunities and make them easy-to-arrange and cost-effective for those wanting to participate,” Gallagher continued.


• An interactive tool, powered United eWay’s VolunteerSolutions module (, which allows travelers to search for cause specific volunteer opportunities.

• A spotlight of the month’s “Top Volunteer Events” that features great volunteer opportunities accompanied by travel discounts to the highlighted destination.

• A travel blog featuring the experiences and photos of consumers who have traveled on volunteer vacations. The first blog features United Way’s President and CEO, Brian Gallagher, as he discusses the importance of vacationing with a purpose.


Although Volunteer Vacations are becoming more commonplace, a recent survey fielded by suggests there is a need for more resources to help travelers learn about how to take advantage of local volunteer opportunities during their vacation.

Survey Results:
• 48% of travelers have heard of a volunteer vacation.
• 50% of respondents would consider taking a vacation for the sole purpose of volunteering.
• 55% of respondents would consider taking a day or two out of an already planned vacation to volunteer in a city near where they are vacationing.
• Only 5% had participated in a volunteer vacation.
• 68% of travelers would likely use a travel website to learn more about volunteer vacations.

This study was fielded by via the Internet using Zommerang’s MarketTool's online survey panel. 430 U.S. adults aged 18 or older were surveyed.

About CheapTickets
CheapTickets ( is a leading seller of discounted leisure travel products online through its Web site, CheapTickets provides consumers access to its collection of airfares on hundreds of airlines. In addition to air, CheapTickets' family of discounted travel products also includes hotel accommodations, cruises, rental cars, vacation packages, condo rentals and Last Minute Trips. Founded in 1986, CheapTickets is a Travelport brand. Travelport ( is one of the largest and most geographically diverse travel companies, dedicated to creating the exceptional travel experiences the world demands.

About United Way
United Way is a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and people’s lives. Building on more than a century of service as the nation’s preeminent community-based fundraiser, United Way engages the community to identify the underlying causes of the most significant local issues, develops strategies and pulls together financial and human resources to address them, and measures the results. United Way of America is the national organization dedicated to leading the United Way movement. While local United Ways tackle issues based on local needs, common focus areas include helping children and youth succeed, improving access to health care, promoting financial stability, and strengthening families. For more information about United Way, please visit:

About United eWay
United eWay is meeting the demands for advanced technological solutions to manage philanthropic programs. United eWay’s suite of products and services are built to efficiently enable community-focused impact. The organization is a wholly-owned, non-profit subsidiary of United Way of America. It is a fully-integrated, flexible and cost effective package of products designed to meet giving and community involvement goals while maintaining the highest level of customer satisfaction and personal touch. United eWay is the only technology solution that combines technological expertise, community knowledge, a global presence and a commitment to mobilizing communities and improving lives.


Media Contact:
Brian Hoyt

Sheila Consaul
United Way of America
W 703.683.7871
C 703.599.7853

4:32 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home