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New Orleans Tourism Opens Media Center to Promote City’s Recovery

November 30, 2005

New Orleans Tourism Opens Media Center to Promote City’s Recovery
November 30, 2005 – The New Orleans tourism industry announced the opening of a special media center inside the Sheraton Hotel downtown to promote the positive stories associated with the city’s recovery and rebirth to media worldwide. According to officials, the effort is a partnership between city and state entities. The release follows in full below.

"New Orleans has faced a tragedy of unparalleled proportions as a result of Hurricane Katrina," President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation Sandra S. Shilstone said. "But in the face of this disaster there are positive stories of recovery and rebirth that aren’t receiving the attention that they warrant, and we plan to do everything we can to turn the focus on the good things that are happening in New Orleans – our success in rebuilding our city depends on it."

Shilstone added that tourism is New Orleans’ largest economic engine, and the industry is committed to returning the city to prominence among travelers around the world – but that won’t happen she says without changing travelers’ attitudes and dispelling some of the misperceptions that have been perpetuated by the media.

"The majority of our visitors – including a record 10.1 million last year alone – are repeat visitors who know and love New Orleans for everything it has to offer, including our unique culture, amazing Creole and Cajun cuisine, a music tradition that gave birth to jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, and hospitality that is unrivaled" Shilstone says. "Once people understand that the tourism landmarks and attractions survived largely unscathed, that restaurants are reopening by the dozens each week, that the music clubs are hopping every night, and that there’s ample hotel room availability, we believe tourism will return to generate much needed economic impact."

Shilstone noted that the Media Center, which will operate through Mardi Gras, will be a prime resource for journalists – especially those in the travel and tourism field – who are covering New Orleans as the city rebuilds and looks to host the 150th anniversary of Carnival parades in late February.

Other tourism leaders agreed upon the importance of tourism to the city’s rebirth and pointed to the media center as a key component in aiding the industry’s resurgence.

J. Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, says Hurricane Katrina led to convention and leisure tourism losses to New Orleans that equal about $15 million per day, but he added that the Crescent City has few competitors when it comes to hospitality and marketing know-how.

"We have some of the brightest minds and most dedicated sales professionals in the business," Perry says. "Within hours after the storm, we had set up operations centers around the country, and we were reaching out to our customers to maintain those key relationships that have helped establish New Orleans as one of the top convention and tourist cities in America."

Perry and other officials acknowledged that they face many short term challenges but say the industry will ultimately be one of the catalysts for the city’s return to national prominence.

"Regardless of the negative ‘dialogue’ about the city’s recovery, New Orleans is too important to the rest of the country for so many reasons and must be rebuilt," Perry says. "Tourism can be the beacon that brings people – both natives and visitors – and commerce back to this jewel of the South."

The New Orleans Tourism Media Center is created and funded by NOTMC, the city’s leisure travel promotion entity, in partnership with the Lt. Gov.’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, and hospitality industry anchors including the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Louis Armstrong International Airport, the Port of New Orleans, the Greater New Orleans Hotel-Lodging Association, and the Louisiana Restaurant Association.

In addition to offering high-speed and wireless Internet service, cable news access, computer resources, and general office services, the Media Center will be a center for hospitality industry news conferences and various media broadcasts. It will also serve as a hub for musical performances, cooking demonstrations, and other New Orleans cultural programs, in addition to offering regular media itineraries highlighting the city’s offerings for travelers.

Dan King, General Manager of the Sheraton Hotel and incoming president of the Greater New Orleans Hotel-Lodging Association, says the hospitality industry immediately identified the importance of the Media Center to the recovery of the city tourism business.

"Our business relies on tourists, and without the industry’s recovery, we won’t survive," King says. "By helping facilitate the Media Center, we help promote tourism to our key audiences and also play an active role in supporting our industry’s recovery."

Tonight, tourism leaders will hold an open house for the hospitality industry in the Media Center, with music performed by the Jason Marsalis Quartet and cuisine provided by the New Orleans Restaurant Association through an array of local restaurants, including Galatoire’s, The Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Inc., Dickie Brennan & Co., ACME Oyster House, and John Besh of Restaurant August and the Besh Steakhouse at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino.

The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Gray Line New Orleans Tours, Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and Presentation Services Audio Visual Company are title sponsors of the Media Center.

The New Orleans Tourism Media Center is located in the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel downtown at 500 Canal Street in "The Gallery" on the first floor at the corner of Camp and Canal Streets. The Media Center’s hours are 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, and its hours will increase as Carnival season nears. Journalists interested in using the New Orleans Media Center are encouraged to contact NOTMC at 504-524-4784, or e-mail

For more information about New Orleans’ tourism recovery, visit, the city’s official tourism Web site.

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