Last year, New Orleans was host to nine million visitors who spent $6 billion in our city, which is the highest visitor spending to date; tourism is our leading industry and because of our hard work and dedication to our city, it is thriving. Besides the large amounts of revenue that are generated for our city and grow our economy from out-of-towners, another hugely important factor is that 75,000 people in New Orleans are employed by the hospitality industry.
The thing that makes that number even more important, and something that some people forget, is that the hospitality industry not only provides jobs for so many of our residents, it is an industry that provides career paths. I think we can all understand how much different a career is from a job. A job pays the bills, but the possibility for advancement breeds ambition and keeps a person striving for more. It is an absolute reality that someone who started as a bell hop or a busser could work their way up through the ranks in the hospitality industry to a higher paying, more challenging, and more fulfilling position; there are countless success stories like this throughout our city’s hotels, restaurants, and more. And some of our hotels and other businesses are international companies, so with hard work and determination, the sky is the limit, and that is a unique opportunity for New Orleanians. Not all industries afford workers the same employment trajectories, and it is a true asset that tourism is our leading industry.
We may not all work in the tourism industry, but odds are we all know someone who does. A huge number of our family members, friends, and neighbors’ livelihood comes from this line of work, and the more each of us thrives and finds success, the more our economy and quality of life is made better all around.