Fun in New Orleans
Take this month as an example. There are 8 major events happening winding up, this weekend and next with the Jazz and Heritage Festival an event that began over forty years ago with the legendary Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson. Next month there are only five! The big event of the year, of course, is the Mardi Gras in March an event that attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year, makes hundreds of millions of dollars for the city and which makes news bulletins the world over. You might be forgiven then for thinking that New Orleans is just about food, music and having fun since that is how the city is often portrayed in films and TV. But New Orleans also has a history and culture unlike anywhere else in the US. French, Spanish and native American heritage mixes with African tradition so that New Orleans must be one of the most culturally diverse cities anywhere. Where else has a pirate, Jean Lafitte, worked with a future American president, Andrew Jackson, to defend the city against a British attack in the year of Waterloo? Where else has food evolved into such distinct dishes as jambalaya and gumbo, po’boys and pralines with tastes neither Caribbean, European or American but uniquely that of the area?
Tourism is the largest industry in New Orleans so any downturn hits hard and quickly. It is estimated that tourism brings $5.3 billion into the economy and supports 70,000 jobs. Ever increasingly Britons and Irish are visiting the city despite the fact that there are no direct connections. Having to change flights in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston or Orlando seems to be the norm but then so is returning home enthused from their stay.