Just read this article in Forbes on the economic impact of Katrina on New Orleans. A snip:
- "Visitors to New Orleans spend $5 billion per year, and 40% of that number is convention and meeting business," says Donna Karl, vice president of client relations for the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, who spoke from Chicago, where she had been forced to evacuate. "Tourism is the No. 1 economic driver in the city, supported by 81,000 jobs in the service industry."
Karl estimates that New Orleans loses half a billion dollars in visitor spending for every month that the city is not operational, and it's facing several months of inactivity now.
"For September, October and November, tourism to New Orleans will be crippled for sure," says Bobby Bowers, a vice president at Smith Travel Research, a Tennessee-based information provider to the lodging industry. He says that room revenue for those three months last year exceeded $268 million--and that's not including spending on meetings, food and beverages, and leisure activities.