by Matt Alderton | June 13, 2013
Although it’s already a popular travel destination for millions of Americans every year, New Orleans is poised to attract even more visitors in the future thanks to Louisiana legislators, who on May 29 passed legislation creating an optional hotel assessment that could increase funding to the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Organization (NOTMC) by 70 percent.

The bill — which allows hotels to generate optional destination marketing revenues for the city by charging guests up to 1.75 percent of their daily room charge — will create up to $12 million in new sales and marketing funds with which to promote New Orleans as a destination for leisure travel, business travel, meetings and conventions, according to New Orleans CVB President and CEO Stephen Perry, who praised the legislation as “visionary” in a public letter to New Orleans’ tourism-industry stakeholders.

Of the 1.75 percent charge on daily room rates, 1.5 percent will go to destination sales and marketing while the remaining 0.25 percent will fund improvements to French Quarter infrastructure, public safety, code enforcement and “quality of life.”

“We estimate that this new funding will create 5,000 new jobs and generate $500 million in additional economic impact over the next 18 months. We should see further gains in our destination market share, drive new attendance at every cultural attraction, attract more diners to restaurants, put more musicians to work, produce more customers for shops and artists, and create a better quality of life for New Orleans citizens in every neighborhood,” said Perry, who stressed that the measure — an “assessment,” not a “tax” — is a voluntary measure that hotels can opt into our out of. “No other industry sector has made such a visionary, unselfish gesture to assess fees on their own businesses to drive the economy, create jobs and invest in our fragile French Quarter to make it safer and cleaner for all.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 242, is currently awaiting action by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is expected to sign it.