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New Orleans named North America's leading sports tourism destination

New Orleans, La. - New Orleans has been recognized for its excellence in sports tourism during the 2013 World Travel Awards. The award was handed down during the ceremony on Saturday, September 14th. Since its inception in 2010, this is the first time that the Crescent City has received the award. Also in the running for this year's award were: Chicago, Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York.

New Orleans won by receiving the most votes through an online year-long voting campaign where participation in voting is worldwide. During 2012-2013, New Orleans hosted several high-profile sporting events. Events such as: The 2012 Allstate BCS National Football Championship, the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four, the 2013 NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four, the 78th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl and Super Bowl XLVII.

In 2014, New Orleans will continue its trend of hosting high-profile sporting events. The NBA's All-Star Weekend (February 14-16) and WWE's Wrestlemania 30 will garner international attention for the City of New Orleans. The city is also home to the New Orleans Saints of the NFL, the New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA, the annual Bayou Classic game between Grambling State University and Southern University, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic.

"This recognition from the World Travel Awards is testament to our city's unique ability to host the most spectacular events on the planet," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "From Super Bowl XLVII to the 2014 NBA All Star Game to WrestleMania XXX, New Orleans will continue to partner with leading organizations, large and small, to host world-class events where residents and visitors have enjoyable and safe experiences."

"This award recognizes the extraordinary dedication and professionalism of the hospitality industry in our city," noted Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Few places in North America can offer the combination of sporting venues, hotel rooms, and convention and meeting facilities that New Orleans can, and of course there's no better place to hold a celebration."

"New Orleans provides the complete visitor package to sports enthusiasts from around the globe," said Mark Romig, President and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. "From thousands of hotels rooms to hundreds of restaurants and music venues and eye-popping museums and attractions within an easy stroll to the sports district, New Orleans is the ideal venue for any sporting event."

Jay Cicero, President & CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and Executive Director of the 2013 Super Bowl Host Committee which oversaw the effort to manage Super Bowl XLVII, remarked that "As entertaining and exciting as these big name events may be, their continued confidence in New Orleans as a host city is a true testament to our experience, service and first-rate execution as well as the proximity of our hotels, facilities and the French Quarter. There's something very special about New Orleans. Our passion for sporting events is ingrained into the city's one of a kind culture, history, and ambiance, and only trumped by the professionalism of our tourism and hospitality industry. It is an honor that New Orleans receives the award as North America's Leading Sports Tourism Destination."

"New Orleans has a well-earned reputation as a leader in hosting world-class sporting events," said Allstate Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan, "and the Sugar Bowl Committee is proud to have played an important role in developing that reputation. This city has a unique package of hotel, hospitality, entertainment and cuisine options that create a truly memorable experience for sports fans. Over the years, Sugar Bowl games, National Championship games and Final Fours have proved as much."

Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson added that "New Orleans is a world class city. Our sports facilities are second to none. Our hotels and hospitality are the gold standard. As an owner for an NFL and NBA franchise; I hear firsthand from other owners about their desire to come and enjoy our city and its hospitality. They cite the proximity of our hotels, restaurants and entertainment to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the Arena. It is the perfect city to host any sporting event and I am proud to have the opportunity to share it with everyone."

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