NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The head of a major tourism marketing organization in New Orleans says the tourism situation is dire so it is launching TV and online campaigns to attract locals and visitors downtown.
Stephen Perry is President and CEO of New Orleans and Company.
“So, where are we? What kind of shape are we in? Well, the reality is our situation is very dire,” Perry told members of the media during a virtual session.
Travel is down globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic and New Orleans is feeling the effects of that. “What’s happening in terms of the number of people coming to town? Well, they’re relatively small,” Perry stated.
And while he is optimistic downtown hotels will be able to survive the bad times associated with the health-crisis he says they too are suffering.
“The question is are hotels hurt in this economy, well, the answer is they’re absolutely devastated but the difference with hotels and many of the other components of our economy is that they have substantially better capitalization, now that can vary from property to property,” said Perry.
He said many residents do not have deep finances.
“Restaurants are substantially differently capitalized than hotels, you know, for most restaurants the wolf is at the door only about a month or two down the road, for some, it could be a matter of weeks,” said Perry.
And he agrees with trade groups that many restaurants may not survive the pandemic.
“You’ve heard estimates both from the National Restaurant Association and from Louisiana Restaurant Association that we could lose 30 percent, maybe even 40 percent of restaurants,” said Pandemic
So New Orleans and Company is kicking off a million-dollar campaign to bring more locals to restaurants and to attract people from other parts of Louisiana and in neighboring states to the city.
“Now is that enough? I’ve got to tell you it’s not. We’re hoping it’s going to move the needle a little bit, but normally we would be spending $13 million, $13 million in marketing and we’re talking about this year spending a million dollars; we don’t have the funding,” said Perry.
The COOLinary Encore Program and the Fall Road Trip Campaign will work in tandem through October and November said New Orleans and Company. Also, Holidays New Orleans Style will begin in December.
Mark Romig, is Sr. Vice President of Marketing with New Orleans and Company and he spoke about the campaigns.
“These are quick to market campaigns using repurposed video footage from past campaigns so that we could save money with our production expenses coupled with some music that we have picked up from our partners at Preservation Hall,” said Romig.
Perry said the tourism industry is critical to the city’s success.
“As the hospitality industry goes, so goes the city of New Orleans. It’s not just the cultural heart and soul of it, but it is actually the economic underpinnings of our city and that’s why you see us pushing very hard to move at a more accelerated rate, in getting our industry open,” he said.
And Perry says if there is not more state and federal financial help the pain in New Orleans will continue.
“If we are not able to secure additional dollars the recovery of New Orleans will be greatly slowed down and those most in peril in this order are going to regular working people in the hospitality industry, our musicians, our culture bearers,” said Perry.
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