New Orleans Tourism Sees Quick Recovery From Hurricane Isaac
New Orleans’ tourism industry is already emerging from Hurricane Isaac and the city is welcoming visitors again, according to the New Orleans CVB. The city’s levees held and the pumps worked as planned, but New Orleans experienced some minor wind damage, power outages and approximately 16 inches of rainfall. New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport was still closed on Aug. 30 but was expected to reopen Aug. 31.
New Orleans CVB reported no significant damage to the city’s major hotels, restaurants, attractions, airport, Morial Convention Center, New Orleans Arena and Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Crews are currently working hard to restore power to many homes and businesses around the metro area. Many of the restaurants and attractions that closed were reopened on Aug. 30 or were scheduled to reopen on Aug. 31. Many of the hotels in the French Quarter and downtown area remained open for guests during the storm and did not lose power.
For example, the Roosevelt New Orleans-A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, has power and is accepting reservations. The hotel, its employees and guests all fared well during the storm. The hotel’s pool was scheduled to reopen on Aug. 31 and the pool bar and full service will begin on Sept. 1. Teddy’s Café, Sazerac Restaurant and Guerlain Spa were set to reopen with full service on Aug. 31. Dominica, the hotel’s casual Italian restaurant, resumed its normal schedule on Aug. 30.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts reported its hotels in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast area have had no major issues from Hurricane Isaac and are open for business. The following properties in New Orleans, Biloxi, Miss., and Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Fla., are fully operational and are taking reservations at this time: Sheraton New Orleans, W New Orleans, W New Orleans French Quarter, Westin New Orleans Canal Place, Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter, Sheraton Metairie-New Orleans, Four Points by Sheraton Destin-Fort Walton Beach, and Four Points by Sheraton Biloxi Beach Boulevard.
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans said it is operating business as usual, accepting new reservations for arrival beginning Aug. 31. The hotel never lost power or any city services. A staff team stayed on property to assist guests who had existing reservations at the hotel and could not leave the city due to the effects of the weather event. Like the hotel's Marriott sister properties in the New Orleans market, the Ritz-Carlton is releasing individual reservations from cancellation penalties for Aug. 30, 2012 through Sept. 3, 2012.
In 2006, a flood gate system was put in place to guard the Ritz-Carlton from any water intrusion and as a result the hotel did not incur any flooding. Some rooms are out-of-service due to leaks from high winds that penetrated window seals in the 102-year old building. The on-site property engineering team is currently addressing these issues and rooms will be placed back in inventory as soon as possible.
The Sheraton Metairie-New Orleans and the Four Points by Sheraton Biloxi Beach Boulevard continue to operate using generator power but expect full power to be restored soon. The Four Points by Sheraton New Orleans Airport is now closed due to water damage and will reopen as quickly as possible. Individual guests and groups with reservations for this hotel may contact the property directly through its website.
New Orleans CVB is encouraging visitors are encouraged to call their airlines and check on their flight schedules. It also is asking visitors to call their hotels and tourist attractions in advance to re-confirm their reservations. Hotels and attractions are getting staffed back up as most of their employees "sheltered in place" at home with their families during the storm for the past 48 hours.
Southern Decadence Festival, a Labor Day tradition in New Orleans, is proceeding as planned for this weekend. The Tulane-Rutgers football game will proceed at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Saturday night.
New Orleans CVB will continue to post updates on the recovery from the storm throughout the holiday weekend at the New Orleans CVB website and on its Facebook page. Other reports on the recovery can be found on the City of New Orleans website dedicated to updating residents on the storm’s aftermath.
Meanwhile, the Port of New Orleans said it will reopen the Mississippi River on Aug. 31 allowing Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Elation to return to the Erato Street Cruise Terminal. The ship was originally scheduled to return to New Orleans on Thursday, but when Hurricane Isaac closed the port, it headed for Mobile, Ala., instead, with plans to bus passengers to and from New Orleans. Carnival Elation now will operate a three-day cruise instead of four days, departing on Friday with embarkation between 6 and 9 p.m. Guests who opt to sail on the modified three-day voyage will receive a 50 percent refund of their cruise fare and a 25 percent discount on a future three- to five-day Carnival cruise. Guests who choose to cancel will receive a credit for a future cruise equal to the amount of their cruise fare.
The Port of New Orleans reported no flooding and minimal wind damage except for “substantial wind-blown damage to the port’s administrative building. Some minimal wind and water damage was reported at the Julia Street Cruise Terminal, but no damage at the Erato Street Cruise Terminal. Also, all passenger vehicles in the cruise parking garage appeared unscathed, the port said in a press release.
“We were very fortunate during this entire storm event,” said Port President and CEO Gary LaGrange. “Again we appreciate the overwhelming support from our customers and colleagues around the nation and the world, and our staff is working tirelessly to ensure operations are back to normal as soon as possible.”
Due to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flood protection system -- the new Seabrook Floodgate Structure and the Lake Borgne Surge Barrier, which were both closed for the first time -- water levels rose to only 3.5 feet above sea level within the Inner Harbor. That is in stark contrast to the more than 12-foot water levels the Inner Harbor endured in past storms, such as Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Katrina in 2008 and 2005 respectively, the port said. “The U.S. Army Corps’ flood protection system worked remarkably well, keeping industrial assets and port tenant’s facilities safe and protecting life and property throughout Eastern New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward,” LaGrange said.
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