According to the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOMCVB), more than 150 meetings were scheduled for September and October in New Orleans. And meeting and convention business scheduled through March 31 of 2006 represents $3-4 billion of business, most of which has been cleared from the docket, according to Stephen Perry, president of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.
As of this report, on the eve of the arrival on the gulf coast of Hurricane Ritawhich could change the scenariomost other events scheduled in 2006 are still on (those utilizing Convention Center space and three or more hotels). Other meetings (those self-contained in hotels and not utilizing the Convention Center) scheduled after January 1, 2006, are not cancelled, according to the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The NOCMVB has promised to remain in constant contact with meeting planners to update them on the status of meetings and conventions. Organizations planning meetings/events through a third-party planner should consult with that planner regarding hotel and city tourism status. The NOCMVB is optimistic about the future of hotel-based meetings next year, and says that many hotels will be back in pristine condition in less than 30 days, will be committed this fall to servicing recovery workers, and ready for normal business after the first of the year.
The tourism industry's biggest trade group is lobbying Congress on behalf of hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast states for tax breaks on meals, travel costs, and housing for businesses whose workers are out of their homes, including a two-for-one travel expenses deduction on federal income taxes. Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu has unveiled a plan, including a PR campaign and cultural institution restoration, to help the New Orleans area's hotels, convention, and other meeting and tourism related businesses get their employees back and start bringing in profits again. The NOMCVB is fully operational with offices in Washington and Chicago, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Memphis, and Pensacola. President J. Stephen Perry and other key New Orleans CVB officers are currently operating out of Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieus office at the Capitol Annex in Baton Rouge, La. (firstname.lastname@example.org). Kitty Ratcliffe of NOMCVB is coordinating convention and industry organization related matters out of Dallas.