Tourism promotion agencies in New Orleans
and the Gulf Coast were already beginning to regroup last week,
even as the task of assessing the physical and economic damage of
the storm was just beginning.
For New Orleans, the
Convention and Visitors Bureau was expected to have an alternate
office open in Baton Rouge as early as this week for what it
described as skeletal operations to work with convention and
meetings clients and tour operators and leisure industry
For New Orleans and
other destinations in the region, however, the focus will
necessarily be on the long term.
According to Stephen
Richer, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention
and Visitors Bureau, the tourism assets on Mississippis Gulf Coast
range from shattered to gone and will take months and months of
work to rebuild.
Richer, who evacuated
his home in Gulfport, Miss., before the storm, knows that on his
return, there will be no office (the building was destroyed in our
tsunami), and that the communitys first priorities will necessarily
be restoring the necessities of life for area residents.
For that reason, he
is urging industry colleagues to continbute to relief
Later, he said, we,
meaning the tourism industry, will need help getting back on our
His CVB promotes 13
casinos, two dozen golf courses, 100-plus pleasure boats, dozens of
attractions and hundreds of restaurants, and the reports are very
Many historic houses
suffered significant damage or are a total loss, Richer said,
including the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which
is a pile of rubble.
were destroyed; the well-known Mary Mahoneys in Biloxi (which made
an appearance in a few John Grisham novels) is a mere frame now,
casinos sustained millions to billions in damage, but Richer is
hopeful the strong people of the Gulf Coast will be able to rebuild
it all, from the historic properties to the casinos.
To contact the
reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].