Tourism official talks about Carnival crowds, safety measures

Carnival season tourism and safety measures

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - With pleasant weather Friday, crews worked to erect parade viewing stands outside of Gallier Hall on St. Charles Avenue.

'We came right out of Sugar Bowl, and all of a sudden we have stands going up on St. Charles Avenue," said Mark Romig, president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.

He said hotel bookings are off to a great start.

"We believe most of the people who are going to be traveling by long flights have already booked, and so most of the business that we will see now will come from a drive-market traffic, so I expect it to be a relatively healthy Mardi Gras," Romig said.

What visitors do not expect along parades routes is gunfire, but in recent years it has happened. Last year there was a shooting on the St. Charles Avenue route. Still, Romig said headlines about parade gunfire don't appear to deter visitors.

"We have not heard any repercussions of that. All we ask people to do is be mindful of their surroundings," he said.

Spotting people with guns is a top priority for New Orleans police and state troopers, as well as federal law enforcement. And Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Friday that parade-goers have a role to play.

"When we're able to take guns off of the parade route, it's generally because of a citizen who's there [and] notices something untoward and reports it to the police officer, calls 911," he said.

Heightened terror concerns are also part of local Carnival season security planning, according to the mayor.

"We'll have a very robust group of individuals who are there to protect us, police officers, etc., etc.," he said. "We also have already been working on making sure we prevent any potential terrorist attacks, and let me very clear about this, there are no credible threats at all," Landrieu said.

Mardi Gras arrives early this year and that could affect crowd size.

"We don't have spring break happening at the same time because we're earlier this year, so this may not be as robust as other Mardi Gras, but it will still be a healthy one for our economy," Romig said.

"If everyone just has common sense and is safe, we ought to be okay," Landrieu said.
"Be mindful of the person standing next to you on the neutral ground or on the sidewalk, and we're all in this together," said Romig.

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