Tourism is the lifeblood of the city, and its future depends on getting visitors to come back. But if officials crow too loudly that the French Quarter, Garden District, and other popular areas are pretty much back to normal, they risk alienating locals who are desperately trying to get the federal government to spend the money necessary to restore the areas where tourists don't go. So we're telling you: If you love New Orleans, go visit it. Now.
This is such a crucial time. Just as the city is wobbling to its feet, here comes summer: the traditional low season, when temperatures rise. Then, as we near August--the one-year anniversary of Katrina--the media will once again replay all that horrifying footage, keeping even more people away. The whole country will be holding its breath during hurricane season, praying that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same spot. So why wait? If you love New Orleans, go visit it. Now.
Convention business isn't slated to return to the city until 2007. In the meantime it's up to us, the leisure travelers, to fill the gap. The people there need us. They need us to stay at their B&Bs, to eat at their restaurants, to shop at their boutiques. (Admit it: You'd love a T-shirt that says MAKE LEVEES NOT WAR) But mostly they need to see us, to see that we care enough to visit not just when the good times are rolling, but after the bad times, too. It's not so much as they need to tell their stores; it's that they need to know they're being heard.
Leisure travel is usually a fairly selfish endeavor, but this is a rare case where we can do some good simply by showing up. If you love New Orleans, go visit it. Now.