NEW ORLEANS The number of visitors to New Orleans nearly doubled last year compared to 2006, and the city is hoping to attract even more tourists with a new campaign to bring people in during the slower summer season.
"Come Out and Play" is the theme of ads set to run across a range of mediums, regionally and nationally, even in Times Square, touting the city's music, food and cultural and family attractions.
The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. rolled out the campaign with a jazz band and dancers in mid-April along with a survey that showed visitation grew from 3.7 million in 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina, to 7.1 million last year.
"We are on some kind of roll this year," Mayor Ray Nagin said.
Since Katrina, tourism officials have tried to sell prospective travelers on the idea that the city is open for business, but they've often come up against concerns about violent crime, misgivings about having a good time when people are still rebuilding their lives, and misperceptions that parts of the city are still under water.
After pulling off a series of successful events and bringing up tourism numbers, officials now feel they've turned a corner, said Lea Sinclair, a spokeswoman for the Tourism Marketing Corp.
"One of the biggest things we're seeing now is, making sure people understand that it's OK to come and visit and have fun," she said.