The big spring festivals have come and gone and we’re gearing up for the summer doldrums.
That’s the way it is in New Orleans and has been for as long as I’ve been alive, and I suspect will be for the foreseeable future.
Of course there will be more festivals—we could not function without an almost weekly celebration of music, food, and culture. And that’s fine with me. This city—despite what everyone says about tech companies and entrepreneurs—lives and dies on the numbers of tourists and visitors. New Orleans booms in months with tolerable temperatures; this is when hundreds of thousands of visitors with cash to spend flock to have their meetings and conventions in the city; and this is when our bigger festivals take place.
Our hotel occupancies are ruled by our weather.
There was some major brouhaha a couple of months ago when New Orleans & Co. (formerly the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau) switched companies for evaluation of the numbers of tourists who visited, and the amount of money they spent in the city. The University of New Orleans performed this service for years, but New Orleans & Co. engaged the services of another firm, which estimated seven-million visitors more than UNO’s study. I’m not going to get into that argument, but I’d be curious to see how the numbers are estimated.
It’s been said so many times that the trio of food, music, and culture are the major attractants to New Orleans. I’d also have to include the “party,” because New Orleans uses its tolerance for drinking, constant partying, and laissez-faire attitude (at the expense of some of the niceties and benefits found in other cities its size) to draw people to the good ole Big Easy.
I still would like to see the actual stats on how many people come to New Orleans for its music, at a time other than Jazz Fest. Everyone knows that music is the big draw during Jazz Fest—but what about during the rest of the year? How many visitors come here with music on their minds, first and foremost?
I would be willing to bet that anyone from outside the U.S. who travels to New Orleans is music-minded, but I don’t have the statistics to prove that assertion. We should be able to get a lot more of those stats now that we’ll have a fully functional international airport. Would it be difficult for the research firm to survey arrivals from outside the U.S. (i.e. on British Airways and Condor, the airlines with direct flights to MSY) to determine if in fact New Orleans is more of a music city than the tourism marketers think it is? Obviously they’d have to survey people coming in with a non-direct flight too from one of the gateway cities, but a good start would be with direct flights from London and Frankfurt.
If those stats say agree with me, wouldn’t we be justified in marketing New Orleans more as a music city in foreign markets? Just sayin’…