Today marks the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and as we look at how far we have come since that tragic time in our history, we can acknowledge so many examples that show so clearly the resilient spirit of our fellow New Orleanians, as well as the dedicated love that we share for this enduring, vibrant city.
Thinking back to those powerful images of our storm-ravaged city nine years ago, it is inspiring to look at our city now, which welcomed 9.28 million visitors in 2013 while also hosting prominent corporate and association meetings and an unprecedented amount of high-profile national sporting events, and continues to earn national and international awards for being one of the hottest leisure destinations in America. New Orleans leaders have fought hard in the past years to make sure the world knew of our astounding progress and that we have been wide open for business. Their work paid off for our local economy: in 2013, our thriving tourism industry brought our city $6.47 billion in visitor spending, the highest in our city’s history, providing crucial and consistent fuel and jobs to the city of New Orleans.
From Katrina’s damage to our infrastructure and reputation, to the national recession, to the BP oil spill, New Orleans has been fighting an uphill battle in the past decade, but that hasn’t stopped us from coming back stronger than ever. Our city is bursting with improved and continually growing rich cultural assets that improve life here in our city and provide a significant draw for tourism in New Orleans, including our nearly 1,500 restaurants, many new cultural attractions, a new and improved Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the winning Saints and an updated Smoothie King Center for the exciting New Orleans Pelicans.
New Orleans is an important asset to this country; our city is home to one of the world’s busiest ports, 40 percent of seafood consumed in America comes from waters off of our coast, and Louisiana is a primary source of the nation’s crude oil, as well as being second in production of the nation’s natural gas and in total energy production. In 2013, Louisiana’s “Hollywood South” overtook the title of the leading film production capital of the world, beating out Los Angeles and New York for most film productions. New Orleans is also the birthplace of jazz and is one of the most unique cities in America.
New Orleans is not like any other place in this country; there is a timeless magic here that continues and grows, and that we all know is well worth fighting for. As we solemnly remember Hurricane Katrina, we can also smile deep with pride at the work and progress we have made in New Orleans since 2005. Here’s to an ever brighter future, and the unmatchable will to thrive that New Orleanians continue to show to the world.