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Hurricane Katrina: One Year Later

August 30, 2006

Hurricane Katrina: One Year Later
August 30, 2006 – In recognition of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, yesterday’s issue of Tuesday included a firsthand perspective on how things are going with the recovery effort. Tuesday posed a series of questions to NTA members Lisa Holland of the New Orleans Metropolitan CVB, Ron McConnell of the Mobile (Ala.) Bay CVB and Steve Richer of the Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB. While all three noted that many challenges remain, they are unified in being optimistic about the early signs of rebirth they’ve seen and about what’s ahead in the coming years. Here is a sampling of their comments: "In terms of travel and tourism, the city is ready for visitors; it’s that simple," said Holland. "[But] we are battling a year’s worth of negative images on the nightly news and there are not enough marketing dollars in the world that can counter that. We are hopeful that the tourism industry will return to normal by early 2008."

"It seems odd to say, but things are really on the up-swing for us," said Richer. "We’ve had casinos open nearly the whole time, and the others that suffered more damage are getting fixed up and are opening very soon. And, the change in legislation to allow casinos to be built on land has opened the door to growth in a way that we couldn’t have imagined."

"I was able to participate in the Tourism – Caring for America event on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said McConnell when asked what one thing stood out to him about the past year. "The spirit and enthusiasm of the volunteers was enormous. It meant so much to my friends on the coast, and I know they will never forget those who came."

The residual effect of the Tourism – Caring for America project was echoed in an e-mail that Tourism Cares Executive Director Bruce Beckham received from Betsy Grant, who works for Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, one of the sites that volunteers worked at in March. Grant wrote, "Today, we are reminded of all the wonderful folks who have helped us recover and rebuild our children’s museum. Our doors are open and our families are excited to return to a place that is both familiar and fun! We will always remember our tourism friends from around the country and hope many of you visit us again … just to play!"

Click here to read the full text of the interviews with Holland, McConnell and Richer.

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