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Introducing The ‘New’ New Orleans

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  •   10-01-2014  3:47 pm

Introducing The ‘New’ New Orleans

Besides the announcement that New Orleans will be the venue for top North American travel industry conference IPW 2016, one of the most historic cities in the United States is brimming with news and new developments.

On a recent visit to Vancouver, Brad Weaber, executive vice president New Orleans, Convention & Visitor's Bureau, told PAXnewsWest about some of the new happenings in the city best known for its old-world charm.

Weaber said the $826 million expansion of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport slated for completion in time for the city’s Tri-centennial in 2018 is the biggest buzz, and the project reflects a global expansion campaign in time for 2018.

“There’s a lot of expansion and development, and activity around getting the infrastructure in place for the year-long celebration,” Weaber said.

Weaber said the CVB is in the midst of a rebrand, and the focus for the future is marketing the emerging venues, and drawing attention to the city’s newest  neighborhoods, such as the Marigny and the Bywater, which are home to a host of new shopping attractions, art markets and live music clubs.

“The CVB world is really changing, and we are looking at offering more consolidated services going forward,” Weaber said. “We’re working on coming out with a whole new feel, we can’t walk away from what we are from an image standpoint, but we want to be edgier and more contemporary.”

“The scene is hot in New Orleans, not only the traditional scene in the French quarter, but there are four or five emerging neighborhoods with new types of venues and music- we call it the ‘new’ New Orleans,”   he continued.

The restaurant scene is also changing in New Orleans, and the famed ‘Commander’s Palace’, with a notoriously lengthy reservation waiting list, is expanding with a new location opening in the French Quarter, serving up authentic Creole cuisine as well as new culinary fares.

Weaber said 700 new restaurants have opened in the past decade to cater to a younger clientele generated by new entrepreneurial start-ups and an influx of businesses. In addition to the expanding restaurant scene, the city has also seen an “explosion” of new art galleries.

As for hotel developments, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is opening Le Meridien New Orleans this fall, and the current Starwood W New Orleans is also undergoing a $29 million renovation planned for completion later this year.

The city of New Orleans is also building a new Waterfront convention centre for the booming MICE market.

“There’s definitely going to be an inventory change with all the growth we’ve been seeing on the meeting side,” said Weaber.

Weaber also said New Orleans, dubbed ‘Hollywood South’ is now producing more movies than California, the most high profile being the recent Oscar winners ’12 years a ‘Dallas Buyers Club’.

Lauren Cason, director, marketing & communications, New Orleans CVB said the cruise port of New Orleans is also growing, and sees as much traffic as the Galveston cruise port.

“There is talk of other cruise ships entering the market in the next couple of years, but we have a very robust port,” Casen said.

River cruises on the mighty Mississippi are are also an option for clients who like the concept of river cruising but don’t like long-haul flights.

Direct flights to New Orleans are currently available from Seattle on Alaska Airlines.

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