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New Orleans pinning hopes on Mardi Gras fams

According to the Times-Picayune, New Orleans officials and hoteliers are hosting some meeting planner fams over Mardi Gras both to thanks those who have committed to bringing groups to the city, and to show those still on the fence that it's ready for business.

    If New Orleans can seize the opportunity to show visiting meeting planners and Carnival revelers alike that the city can handle an event as logistically complex as Mardi Gras, the thinking goes, it will win back their confidence and their business. With hundreds of television cameras trained on New Orleans, the city hopes to showcase its deep cultural traditions, food and music to shatter negative perceptions created after the storm. Without the free news media opportunities, groups such as the short-staffed Tourism Marketing Corp. and New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau probably wouldn't be able to battle the perception problems because their tourism tax-dependent budgets have been slashed.

But even some hoteliers have lingering doubts that they can pull it off, what with damage and debris still littering the streets and a dearth of workers to take care of guests. I'm wishing you all well down in NOLA, and here's hoping it all works out.

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