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Businesses and tourism officials optimistic about more visitors returning to New Orleans

Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 5:29 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Businesses and tourism officials are hoping stimulus money, vaccines and the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in New Orleans due to low positivity rates will bring more visitors back to the city.

There’s no question the last year has been overwhelming for Chefs like Michael Gulotta. He owns both MoPho and Maypop in New Orleans. But now that vaccines are rolling out, and restrictions are being eased, he’s feeling hopeful about the future.

“There’s just sort of this energy, this optimism that’s starting to thread its way, you see more and more people coming in, especially at MoPho, you see a lot of older people, who hadn’t been going out, who now have their second shot and now they are coming out to eat, so, we see those people moving around again,” said Gulotta.

MoPho in Mid City re-opened during the pandemic. But, Maypop in the CBD has been closed for a year now because Gulotta says it’s so reliant on conventions.

“We really need not so much the tourists, but the conventions, we survive mostly off conventions, but, we also have a lot of people who have been messaging us, which is really a good feeling, at least one or two people a week are like hey when is Maypop re-opening, we’re starting to feel it out and trying to put pieces in place, we just don’t have any definitive news on that yet,” Gulotta said.

Kelly Schulz with New Orleans & Company says those in the tourism industry are cautiously optimistic.

“New Orleans has very low positivity rates, we have more and more people getting vaccinated, we have travelers actually making their reservations to come and visit as they feel comfortable with traveling again and then we have also had the American Rescue Plan which is going to give a much needed life line particularly to restaurants in the meantime before we are able to fully ramp back up.” said Schulz.

She says a big component of bringing tourists back to New Orleans is the return of live music.

“Our visitors have been telling us, we want to come to New Orleans and listen to live music and that was a piece that was missing for a while, so, the fact that our live music is able to resume with safety guidelines in place is a huge win, something that we are definitely going to promote and cause people to actually book those trips to New Orleans,” she said.

As for Gulotta, he’s hoping New Orleans could see a travel boom over the Summer.

“Because people have just been locked up, so, I think as all of these vaccines hit, we feel like we are going to see that uptick and it should be enough for us not to lose too much money over the Summer and be ready to roll into a busy Fall,” Gulotta said.

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