Some visitors see N.O. as a safer venue amid New Year's Eve terror concerns

Strong tourism expected for New Year's Eve

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Tourism leaders expect the city to be packed with visitors who want to ring in the New Year in the Crescent City, and some tourists think New Orleans will be a safer venue to welcome in 2016, given the global terrorism concerns.

"We're here to celebrate the New Year," said Suzanne Obetz of Washington, D.C.

She and her friend are among the many first-time visitors who were walking the streets of the French Quarter Tuesday afternoon.

Tammy Johnson and her husband are first timers, too.

"I have no expectations because it's going to be crazy," she said, laughing.

Add to them the fans of Ole Miss and Oklahoma State who are converging on the city for the annual Allstate Sugar Bowl to be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"Hotty Toddy, Ole Miss will win Sugar Bowl this year," said Pepper Pounds, a former Ole Miss Player.

"It's going to be 42 to 39," said his father, Paul Pounds, who coached at John Curtis before retiring in Mississippi.

Oklahoma fans expect to get a win, too, while in town. But no matter which team gets the victory, the local tourism industry will be a winner.

"Hotels are projected to be sold out New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and the game is sold out, restaurants are busy - packed with reservations for New Year's Eve," said Lauren Cason with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

She said the city continues to reap a lot of praise.

"We've been named one of the most visited destinations across the globe by AFAR Magazine…The magazine named the most traveled destinations based on what they were hearing from their readers and their editors," Cason said.

And the city expects huge crowds on New Year's Eve, even as many Americans are concerned about possible terrorism on the big night.

Some visitors said they feel safer being in New Orleans.

"I feel like it, definitely. Safer here than I do in D.C. and New York," said Obetz.

Still others said terrorism concerns don't come to mind as they prepare to welcome a new year.

"No, I don't really think about that too much," said Doug Johnson.

"New York Times just recognized us yesterday as one of the four cities to celebrate New Year's Eve this year," said Cason.

"It's just a beautiful city and I can't wait to enjoy the festivities," said Heather Parker of Washington, D.C.

The NOPD said its staffing level will be at 100 percent across the city starting on Thursday and continuing through Sunday.

Police Chief Michael Harrison will outline the holiday security plan later this week.

Copyright WVUE 2015. All rights reserved.