PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- In
1972, Daniel Sullivan, Jr. visited New Orleans for the first time
and it became one of his favorite places ... he loved the music,
the great variety of restaurants and the rich cultural melting pot
of the 300-year-old city.
It was also the year
Collette Tours -- which was run by Sullivan's father, Daniel Sr.,
at the time -- started running a regular series of tours to New
Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. According to Sullivan, that
series turned into one of the perennial favorites of Collette's
So when New Orleans
was hit with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Sullivan, now
president and CEO of Collette Vacations and a major participant in
industry restoration projects like Tourism Cares for Tomorrow, a charitable foundation
formed by the Travelers Conservation Foundation and the National
Tourism Foundation, couldn't just stand by and do
"When Katrina first
hit and devastation was all you were hearing, Dan stood up and
said, 'We will be back in New Orleans in the spring!' " said Cyndi
Zesk, Collette's vice president of marketing. "I think at the time
people thought he was crazy. But he kept right on top of it, kept
looking at how he could get [Collette] back in there. And he was
true to his passion. We're going back and we're bringing both
This spring, Collette
is reinstating its New Orleans Getaway, which journeys through the
city, as well as its New Orleans and the Deep South itinerary,
which includes surrounding areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and
recovery is still ongoing in those areas, the company is donating
all the profits from the tours to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
of the American Red Cross.
"Our clients love the
Cajun culture. We take them to Lafayette [La.] for a Cajun dinner.
We take them to Preservation Hall so they can enjoy the
entertainment that captures the flavor of New Orleans. We want to
get people down to play up that heritage," said Sullivan.
"Hopefully the rest of the industry will join in and do similar
things. Once we get tourism flowing and the economy going, great
things can happen."
adjustments had to be made in the itineraries. "We had to make
changes because Biloxi, Miss. is not ready yet [for an overnight
stay]," said Zesk. "But we're still going out and visiting, still
going shrimp boating. But then we go back and overnight in New
To get things
started, Sullivan himself will go back to being a tour director
when the company holds an event with the New Orleans Metropolitan
CVB. On Jan. 27, Sullivan will guide a tour showing the progress of
the rebuilding efforts. Regular departures will resume in spring at
a date yet to be announced.
For more information,
contact Collette at (800) 340-5158.
reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].