Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and other citywide business groups at Gallier Hall this morning to ask for a $75 million check from BP to market New Orleans as a tourism destination across the country.
Landrieu joined by business leaders at Gallier Hall this morning.
The money will be used to augment the $5 million New Orleans advertising campaign which Gambit reported on yesterday.
The $75 million tourism ask precedes a broad platform press conference scheduled at the CVB this afternoon to include business and political leaders from across the state responding to the BP disaster on a variety of policy and political levels. The theme of this afternoon's press conference is "Move Forward Now: the announcement of a four-pronged platform and call to action."
Theres a very broad-based business coalition, and well be urging action on a number of different issues, says Greg Rusovich, chairman of the Business Council of New Orleans. [The $75 million] is just one of several key issues. Therell be a platform that this broad-based coalition will be calling for immediate action on.
Were talking about oil and gas, were talking about coastal restoration, the coastal wetlands, were talking about how to get a better command and control process, and the tourism front, and several others as well, Rusovich continues declining to be more specific about this afternoon's plan.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met with a closed town hall meeting of industry leaders at the CVB last Thursday night, June 10. He listened to emotional testimony from Vietnamese shrimpers, all the way up to the general managers from the biggest hotels in town, says CVB President Steve Perry, adding that Locke likes the idea of the $75 million ask. Locke's office did not return a call for comment.
Perry says the role of the mayors office in lining up this morning's $75 million request has been pivotal.
And this is whats changed. From eight years here, weve never had a situation where all the business interests have come together, and the mayors office has been an actual true resource and supporter, he says.
The request, on the mayor's letterhead, was addressed to BP headquarters at 1 St. James Square, London, though it's unclear whether it's actually been delivered there. In the letter, Landrieu writes:
The Gulf oil spill has the great potential to negatively impact the bit of progress weve made since Hurricane Katrina, and we must be prepared as a city to stand up for our tourism and hospitality industry.
Tourism is a perception-driven industry. Even after significant investment in marketing, as of April 2010, New Orleans had only returned to 75 percent of its pre-Katrina visitor levels.
Direct support to New Orleans from BP for this most recent recovery effort is without question an essential key to our success.
The $75 million ask has also been discussed with BP through representatives of theirs, Perry says, although he declined to put Gambit in touch with anyone from the company: Theyve asked us not to do that.
BP did not return a call for comment on this story.
This is about a unified ask by every major corporation and the mayor of New Orleans, Perry continues. I think theres a good chance that were going to get this money.