New Orleans Asks BP for $75 Million Tourism Grant

Although New Orleans is located 100 miles inland, its tourism industry has nonetheless been impacted by the Gulf oil spill, according to Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who has sent a letter to BP leadership asking for a $75 million tourism grant, the City of New Orleans announced earlier this month.

The grant was requested over a three-year period to mitigate the long-term effects of the oil spill crisis on tourism, the largest contributor to the city's economy.

"The City of New Orleans is singular among American cities in that we have had to formulate and execute a recovery strategy from three major disasters — 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and now the Deepwater Horizon spill," Landrieu said in a statement. "As the largest economic driver in the city, the tourism industry has been the centerpiece of New Orleans' economic recovery efforts. In the same way that we organized the recovery of the tourism industry following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the current crisis in the Gulf makes it critical for us to step up again to save this essential economic resource. Convincing travelers that New Orleans is open for business is key to maintaining our base tourism economy."

As of April 2010, New Orleans had only returned to 75 percent of its pre-Katrina visitor levels, according to the mayor's office.

"The Gulf oil spill has the great potential to negatively impact the bit of progress we've made since Hurricane Katrina, and we must be prepared as a city to stand up our tourism and hospitality industry," Landrieu continued. "In doing so, we will preserve the city's reputation as a top destination and ensure that the livelihoods of those who are employed in making New Orleans the most authentic and culturally rich place it is today are protected."

Although it has not yet responded to Landrieu's request, BP already has given the State of Louisiana $15 million for tourism marketing — $5 million of which was allocated to New Orleans.

"We think we are going to get this money," New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Stephen Perry told CNN last week. "What is so critical is, if we get this, we can literally mitigate potentially billions of dollars of damage here."