NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA– With a new stimulus bill, in the works, several cities are hoping it will include help for tourism. New Orleans Tourism and Marketing reports that with three months left in 2020, 50 percent of restaurants and 67 percent of hotels are open.
Mark Romig, the Chief Executive Officer for New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation is urging for Congress and state legislators to help bring New Orleans’ economy back from the brink, after the effects of the coronavirus.
Romig, looks back at March remembering how his city went from vibrant to desolate in a matter of days, saying “none of the Cares Act information has contained any support for attractions, museums or destination marketing organizations, we really need that assistance, especially as we see more of our city struggling, for instance the Audubon Zoo. We need to be given the chance.”
Compared to last year, the city losses about 150 million dollars a week; which is a dire deficit for a tourism-based economy.
“The first part of 2021 is not looking as strong as we had hoped. I’m a big fan of Mardi Gras. I hope that we will be in a position that we can have some form of Mardi Gras. We may have to adapt to a type of Mardi Gras that we’ve never seen before. Possibly doing something that can keep our tradition alive, but done in a safe manor,” says Romig.
Mardi Gras generates a half a billion dollars. While neighboring parishes generate another half a billion and some of those parishes are eager to move forward with “letting the good times roll.” However, Orleans Parish tourism along with a number of Mardi Gras Krewes and organizations are very cautions about how and if, they will move on Mardi Gras.
Romig says its the time for everyone to work together to make Mardi Gras possible saying, “I would ask for regional cooperation on anything that we do as it relates to this COVID-19. It does not know boundaries. The 17th street Canal does not mean anything, as it relates to this virus.”
If one strolls the streets of the French Quarter, there are sigs of life returning to the Big Easy, but there are also plenty of closed signs on businesses. Many are saying it will take years for New Orleans to recover financially and culturally.
One thing that Mark Romig says has been consistent, is the 300-year-old spirit of New Orleans, saying “we all pulled together and I’ve seen that strength come through over the last six months and I think that is what will get us through COVID-19 into 2021 and beyond.”