The Big Easy exceeds pre-Katrina visitor spending after ten years of rebuilding and re-establishing the tourism industry and beyond. Over a decade has passed since the catastrophe hit the withered shores of South Louisiana, a territory already set below sea level, which was as deep as 12 feet as of 2000.
In 2004, New Orleans hit the record of 10.1 million visitors who spent a booming $2.9 billion. After Katrina, that number shrank down to 3.7 million visitors.
The broken levees caused 80% of the city to be submerged underwater including the cities’ famous hotspots such as parts Bourbon Street.
The storm that ended in 1,833 deaths and $180 billion in damages didn’t stop the city from reemerging into one of the most loved cities we know today.
The tourism industry counts for $5 billion of the economy each year and employees over 70,000 people including chefs, street performers and tour guides. However, New Orleans offers much more than the culture and food, it holds one of the world’s busiest port and one of the nation’s primary sources for crude oil.
Even though years have passed, some people still don’t know how much the city has progressed.
LSU student Cecilia Vazquez studying International Studies says, “I think people think we are still flooded, [laughs] which is obviously not true. Our city is thriving again.”
The history of gradual, but successful comebacks of destroyed cities are plentiful. The Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed nearly the entire downtown of Chicago leaving 90,000 people homeless. City officials started rebuilding with fireproof materials before the blueprints were finished. Most of the city was reconstructed by the 1880s, which is relatively quickly for a city in the 19th Century.
The rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and European cities, such as Hamburg, bombed during WWII is also notable because of the devastation that ensued and the lack of firm governmental protocols.
It’s proof that cities can rebuild and reconstruct even after periods of devastation and what seems like it will never be fixed.
Neighborhoods including St. Bernard Parish and the lower 9th Ward suffered the most, while icons such as the French Quarter and the Garden District didn’t see too much damage at all.
Today, there are many a abundance of music festivals that bring in record-breaking visitors and 600 more restaurants to choose from.
New Orleans native, Troy Johnson says, “Most of our city was basically demolished and we built it back up to something bigger and better.”
The Saints Super Bowl Win in 2009 might have had something to do with the sense of determination to overcome the aftermath.
Jason Anseman from Metairie said, “I was watching the [Saints] game with a buddy at a bar and people were crying. It was surreal.”
The city is about to celebrate its 300th anniversary in 2018 and plans to attract 13.7 million people. Breaking this milestone will surely get residents to surpass the Katrina-era with newfound hope and courage.