Tourism industry edgy about impact of Mother's Day shooting - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Tourism industry edgy about impact of Mother's Day shooting

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Tourists stroll Bourbon Street on Tuesday afternoon. Tourists stroll Bourbon Street on Tuesday afternoon.

New Orleans, La. — People who count on tourists to make a living are nervous about the possible fallout from widespread media coverage of the Mother's Day mass shooting.

"Of course, it's of great concern to us," said Robert Watters, chairman of the French Quarter Management District.

The unconscionable act of a man shooting into a crowd of hundreds not only dominates local news coverage, but national media continue to focus on the incident.

"The shooter was right behind me," one victim told CNN.

There are blaring international headlines, as well.

"This is a horrible tragedy, and press or no press this is something that we don't want to see," said Al Groos, general manager of the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

"Anytime something like this happens close to the French Quarter it affects all of us, it affects the community, the residents, it affects visitors for our city, it affects our reputation," said Watters.

The negative spotlight comes as tourism leaders launch another big outreach to vacationers. Tuesday, the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation unveiled its new "Follow Your Nola" campaign. Now, tourism officials must be prepared to answer yet more questions about whether the city is a safe destination.

"We're saying a very consistent message. New Orleans is dealing with its issues, but we have a very positive message to put forward," said Mark Romig, president and CEO of the Tourism Marketing Corporation.

Romig said despite the violent crime problem, the virtues of the city must be extolled because tens of thousands of jobs are tied to tourism. "If we just caved in to this stupidity then nothing gets accomplished," said Romig.

Because a lot of the national and internal coverage only states that the shooting happened during a parade, and does not mention it was a second line parade, some in the tourism industry fear potential tourists for Mardi Gras may be scared away.

"Our city is dependent upon that traffic and we're dependent upon a good reputation as a safe, fun place to visit, that's absolutely essential to our economy," added Watters.

"Who wants to see anything of this nature? But it's not a reflection of our city, and it's certainly not a reflection of the overall safety of visitors," said Groos.

The new marketing campaign targets tourists of all ages, but there is emphasis on adults 35 to 65 years of age. It runs through August.

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