NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The end of the year is a busy one for the tourism industry in New Orleans, but could the rise in COVID cases ruin the New Year’s Eve fun?
Taxis are rolling up to hotels. Tourists are flocking to shops and restaurants. All this for a busy week leading up to New Year’s in New Orleans.
“Looking at this New Year’s Eve the city is going to be very, very packed. Hotels are projected to sell out,” Kelly Schulz with New Orleans and Company said.
From the Sugar Bowl to New Year’s Eve activities including the televised Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve to the Saints/Panthers game on Sunday. The economic impact is expected to be incredible, but tourism leaders want people to remember that the Omicron variant is out there.
“We want to make sure everyone coming in follows the safety guidelines. That everyone is wearing their masks and practicing social distancing and the more people that are vaccinated then the safer our community is,” Schulz said.
At Felipe’s Taqueria which is in the epicenter of the all the French Quarter crowds they are expecting big business but are being vigilant about Omicron.
“We are definitely concerned. Always concerned, but it feels different this time. At this point it feels like people want to go do things and that’s great,” Pike Howard with Felipe’s Taqueria said.
Felipe’s is expecting to have one of their biggest weekends in quite some time, but safety is still top of mind.
“It really is masks, vaccines, and boosters. I think as a business owner that’s the best you can do,” Howard said.
And for families like the Turner’s who are visiting from Virginia, In New Orleans they are having fun without sacrificing their safety.
“Everything we’ve experienced has been very safe, all the way from the airport, to the Uber ride, to the hotel, to the restaurants,” David Turner said.
“Maybe we are actually getting to a point where tourism is sustainable moving forward, for the future of the New Orleans that we know and love,” Howard said.
Tourism leaders say that even before the latest spike they expected 2022 to be a recovery year, with fewer visitors than the record-breaking year of 2019.