Thursday, January 12, 2006

NOLA: Not Ready for Tourists

At least, the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. thinks so:
Company President Bruce Nierenberg said that with local hotel rooms scarce, restaurants understaffed and flights, taxi service and streetcar service limited, his company concluded that New Orleans is not properly equipped to handle its guests at this point.
Will all this magically change by Mardi Gras?
The Delta Queen Steamboat Co.'s decision not to operate from New Orleans this year reflects the tourism industry's Catch-22 in its efforts to restart: The city needs tourists to restart the economy, but some tourists may be reluctant to come until there is more proof that the city offers the services they expect.
I don’t know if this is a Catch-22 as much as a natural consequence of your city being flooded for two weeks.

I still don't see how we can do a city-sponsored Mardi Gras with so few services. We are asking tourists to come down to a city that is not fully functional. After seeing yesterday's BNOB meeting, I don't think the city is mentally functional.

And in reallocating resources to deal with Mardi Gras, we are losing time. June 1st won't come eight days later because we decided to celebrate Mardi Gras. Hurricane season is a deadline we can't push back.

But there are some deadlines we can push back:
Some of the hurricane evacuees living in New Orleans-area hotels at government expense could count on staying until March 1, the day after Mardi Gras, under a plan stitched together Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Hotels are going to love that, given recent efforts to evict evacuees.

This doesn't seem fair to the hotels or the evacuees. But the only way to make things right is to have a safe New Orleans for both tourists and residents. Let's hope we're not eight days too late in achieving that next hurricane season.

If we are not ready come June 1st, it wouldn't take a Katrina-type storm to cause problems. Another Cindy might be just as bad.


D. Sorrell said...

I have no idea how they are going to operate without residents to staff hotels, eateries, etc., but that was my FIRST thought, not a causal "catch-22" consideration.

I take my "tourism" experience from having worked in a hotel. There are few things more stressful for all parties than not having enough rooms, staff, juggling reservations, etc. Something as simple as "I ordered two double beds, and I have one king" can turn into a big argument. Mix that with drinks, partying, and an assumption that a NOLA resident "took my room," and it could be disasterous.

And so, the day after Mardi Gras, you kick the people out? Where are they going to go then. Too much confusion, too little sense.

dillyberto said...

Another Cindy?

I just on about a heavy, nasty May flood. This can happen overnight. Wait that was the city. Now, we've lost the Broad Street pumping station. Not back up. Won't be back up for several months.


Yeah, those wooden shoes do float.

I can't wait. This is a time of real ups and REAL DOWNS. It will take an election to really pull out the torches and pitch forks and make change a reality.