Editor’s Note: This letter was distributed to members of the Textile Care Allied Trades Association (TCATA) last Thursday and is being reprinted here with permission.
As you already know, the next Clean Show will be held in New Orleans in June 2009. Understandably, there has been some concern expressed by a few TCATA members about the condition of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. The condition of the city’s infrastructure, crime rate and hotel/restaurant staffing capacity are legitimate concerns — ones that I would have if I were considering exhibiting or visiting the city. Having visited New Orleans recently, I want to offer you my personal impressions.
Frankly, I was very pleasantly surprised at what I saw and experienced in New Orleans, a stark contrast to many of the stories in the major media about how bad things are there. They are not. In fact, the areas that trade-show attendees and exhibitors will see — the French Quarter, Warehouse District, Canal Street and convention center — are now better than ever. For sure, some outer wards of the city still have major problems, but New Orleans is back to being a vibrant city, one that I think will be a great venue for the show.
When I visited there, things were bustling — restaurants and hotels were full, the French Quarter (cleaner than ever) was bustling, and the convention center was setting up for another major trade show. Several hotels took the opportunity to make major renovations after Katrina.
Many major organizations (including the American Library Association, the American College of Cardiology and the International Chiefs of Police, just to name a few) have recently held conventions or trade shows even larger than the Clean Show, and some have already planned to return. I think it is important to remember that these are not “sympathy” meetings — these are organizations that are making bottom-line business decisions.
Flights to and from the city are 95% back with full pre-Katrina schedules anticipated by year’s end.
I wanted to give you my personal impressions of New Orleans so that you don’t think that the “Chamber of Commerce”-type information you may have read is just expected public relations and nothing more — it is not. Having said that, there are some activities there that you should know about that illustrate how much New Orleans has recovered.
Another Mardi Gras has just ended, and football fans know that the Sugar Bowl and BCS Championship were held there in January, as the upcoming NBA All-Star Game will be. President Bush has scheduled a summit with the prime minister of Canada and the president of Mexico there in April, and New Orleans was recently named the No. 1 city in America, according to a poll conducted by Travel & Leisure magazine.
I’d be happy to speak with you further about my experiences in New Orleans, and look forward to seeing you there for the next Clean Show.
Chief Executive Officer, TCATA
Member, Clean Executive Committee