Hurricane season no longer deters conventions in New Orleans

Convention Center Boulevard (Source: Leigh Isaacson)
Convention Center Boulevard (Source: Leigh Isaacson)

Event planners seem to no longer be wary of booking in New Orleans during the height of hurricane season. The traditionally slow months are transforming with the return of some big-name conventions.

"Groups are starting to recognize that New Orleans is a great place to be in September," said Mark Romig, president of the N.O. Tourism and Marketing Corporation.

Just as thousands of people rounded out one of the most-attended long weekends of Southern Decadence, 18,000 began rolling in for the National Baptist Convention and its board elections.

"And we're happy to be here. It's beautiful here," said Sallie Hamilton, a convention-goer from Detroit.

The spinning wheel of tourism is commonplace later in the fall, but it hasn't always been that way for the month of September.

"Shortly after the Hurricane Katrina period, there was a reluctance to some degree for people to come back in September. It was just, they thought if it happens again, but now we know that the city is safer than ever and groups are started to come back," said Romig.

The National Baptist Convention hasn't been in New Orleans since 2004.

"I went to convention the last time it was here," said Hamilton.

Now, they're back for a full five days, during which the tourists are expected to spend $20 million, according to Romig.

There's another big event on deck as soon as the National Baptist Convention leaves.

"You've got Yulman stadium opening up this weekend, Benson Field, a sell out crowd on Saturday with Georgia Tech. So, you've got a good drive market group coming in," said Romig.

Romig says the ball will keep rolling from a better-than-expected summer and through Saints and convention season.

"It's a very strong fall we think," said Romig.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.