New Orleans still a tourist favorite, despite crime concerns

Don Ames
July 17, 2017 - 7:33 am

New Orleans continues to charm visitors from around the world and earn praise, with recent designations in the 2017 Travel + Leisure 'World's Best' Awards. 

The readers of the prominent travel magazine have named New Orleans the 4th best city in the country to visit. 

"It's terrific news for the city," says Kristian Sonnier, with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. "This is the fourth year we've been in the top five. And this is a reader survey. So, these are people that read Travel + Leisure, and take the advice of Travel + Leisure, and then visit the cities that are listed."

"Among the many things that people liked about New Orleans is that we are, basically the capitol of celebrations. They listed a lot of our festivals like Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, Tales of the Cocktail...those are all listed by readers as reasons to visit."

Not mentioned in the survey, says Sonnier, was concern about the city's crime rate. "According to this survey, no. No one mentioned crime."

Sonnier believes tourists are paying attention to it, but it doesn't appear to keeping them from coming to visit.

"Tourists are still coming to the city. They're just being more diligent about their visits when they come here."

Sonnier admits the recent spate of incidents, particularly in the French Quarter, is worrisome. 

"We really won't know what this recent crime spike is going to do until next year," he says. "It's a little too early to tell." 

"We are concerned about tourists coming and fearing for their safety, and we are getting calls and emails from them about that. But, it won't be until next year that we can determine whether or not it's going to negatively impact their travel decisions."

"People still think we're a great place to come and visit. But, all that could slip away if we don't get a better handle on crime."

He lauds the efforts already being made. 

"If you look at the district's statistics, violent crime is down in the French Quarter," says Sonnier. "Now, that's cold comfort to the people who were recently victimized. But, the data shows that crime is being better managed in the Eighth District over last year."  

Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards is an annual readers' survey that rates destinations, hotels, airports, cruise lines and more. New Orleans ranked ahead of Nashville, Chicago, Boston and Portland, Ore. in the list of U.S. Best Cities, and was included in the top four along with Charleston, Savannah, and Santa Fe. Readers ranked cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

New Orleans set a tourism record last year, with 10.4 million visitors.

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