Louisiana officials unveiled a preliminary
plan last week to help rebuild the states devastated travel
industry and return more than 120,000 tourism workers to their
jobs. The plan would marshal support from government sources,
industry groups and companies to help funds the effort.
Louisiana, the plan remains sketchy in its detail. Nevertheless it
was quickly endorsed by Travel Industry Association President Roger
Dow and other leaders of national tourism organizations.
said the plan not only lays a foundation for restoring the tourist
areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but also anticipates
improvements in the tourism industry in New Orleans to make the
area the pre-eminent destination in the region for national and
We have begun the
monumental task of rebuilding New Orleans and the surrounding
parishes in southeast Louisiana, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu told
reporters at a gathering of state officials and industry leaders in
Baton Rouge last week. As each day brings new progress, we have
been working to marshal every resource to help the vital tourism
industry, second-largest in our state, rebound.
Calling the New
Orleans cultural tourism areas the soul of America, Landrieu said
the state would seek federal funds as well as contributions from
the travel and tourism industry. He said the state would request
lobbying help from Washington-based travel and tourism associations
and the Louisiana Congressional delegation to secure resources to
which oversees cultural, recreation and tourism efforts in the
state, said it will coordinate a massive public relations campaign,
small business loans to affected areas and other recovery
areas fared well
director of Louisianas Department of Culture, Recreation and
Tourism, told Travel Weekly there has been significant good news as
assessments of the damage in cultural and historical efforts are
Our most important
cultural assets, including the French Quarter, received minimal
damage, she said.
Davis said she
toured areas of the historic districts in the region and was
relieved to find many of the irreplaceable artifacts -- Louis
Armstrongs trumpet, Audubon bird paintings, city documents from
1769 onward, Napoleons death mask, and similar draws for tourists
A small portion of the
citys historical jazz collection, housed in the U.S. Mint, did
suffer minor damage from rain when part of the roof was lost, she
said, but she has been assured those materials can be
Even as Hurricane
Rita bore down on the Texas Gulf Coast late last week, bringing
concerns that it could bring more flooding to New Orleans, state
officials said they remain optimistic about the states ability to
better protect the city, essential for restoring confidence by the
capital markets to invest in redeveloping the tourism
attracted some $9.9 billion in spending by visitors to Louisiana
last year, officials noted.
We are very
optimistic, Davis said. We are focused not just on rebuilding to
rebuild but to recapture the soul of America, and restore what is
important to our culture, whether it is our musical history, our
literary artists, our culinary culture or whatever it might
The plan Landrieu
unveiled last week centers on four main points:
Emphasis on the
states tourism attractions which remain open.
tourism the economic engine that drives rebuilding
Focus on building
better livelihoods for workers within Louisianas tourism industry
and for those who support it.
Set a high
standard within the recovery for performance, accountability and
anticipates using funds raised privately to help provide loans to
small businesses and recovery organizations to help finance the
governors office will facilitate that process through a nonprofit
group, the Cultural Economy Foundation, which has been created
specifically to receive and distribute funds, officials
TIA will do
The TIAs Dow, who
was in Baton Rouge last week to join industry officials backing the
state tourism recovery effort, said the association will join the
state and the region in lobbying Congress for financial support in
the reconstruction efforts and in coordinating industry support for
Loews Hotels CEO
Jonathan Tisch was among those who threw support behind the states
tourism rebuilding plan, speaking at the press conference last week
as chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable (TBR).
companys hotel in New Orleans was damaged, told reporters he
believed that companies would set aside competitive issues to help
rebuild the area.
The TIA and the TBR
put some actions behind their words by sending a proposed
legislative relief package to the Bush administration and
Congressional leaders, asking for emergency tax relief for travel
and tourism industry employees and owners in the three states hit
hardest by the hurricane. The package would include federal tax
deductions and credits.
We are seeking only
emergency tax relief for the affected region that would be both
time-limited and targeted in focus, Dow emphasized in testimony
Sept. 22 to the Energy and Commerce Committees subcommittee on
commerce, trade and consumer protection.
Dow said he
considers the first step in the process to be job recovery,
including finding interim work for tourism industry employees while
rebuilding is going on.
He pledged that the
TIA would take a leadership role in the effort.
tourism-related workers were displaced across the Gulf Coast states
of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
funds are critical
noted that outside financial resources will be critical to the
rebuilding effort because no tourism revenues currently exist,
leaving no tax revenues to refill the coffers of Louisiana
convention and tourism organizations.
Landrieu said the
cultural reputation of New Orleans and the region will be a key
driver in attracting economic help from the rest of the
Louisiana better than before we must understand that Louisiana
lives through the creativity and culture of its people, Landrieu
said. Louisiana is set apart by its deeply rooted authentic and
unique culture. We are the soul of the nation.
While Landrieu said
the state welcomes help from all directions, he made it clear that
Louisianans would lead the rebuilding effort.
said they will create housing for those working in the tourism
reconstruction effort in state parks, using both temporary
buildings, mobile homes and existing cabins to provide living
That will help free
up hotel rooms for tourists, the officials said.
reporter Dan Luzadder, send e-mail to [email protected].
details on this article, see New Orleans hotels open up to relief