Tourism Leader Gets “Bizarre”; Action NOLA Responds

Mayor Cantrell’s administration has been fighting hard for infrastructure revenue from our ever/always important tourism industry, but the industry itself has been striking back, noting inefficiency in government handling of tax money. It’s likely that this battle will lead to more mud slinging and eventual statewide legislation, but for now, we have quite the debate.

On January 4th, The Lens posted a podcast interview with Stephen Perry of New Orleans & Company (the former New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, our largest tourism and marketing firm) that was as intriguing if a bit contentious:

“Take the French Quarter. You’ve got a city that takes a 13-by-8 block area that’s arguably the single most valuable neighborhood commercially in the entire United States. They can’t clean it. They can’t pick up the garbage,”

Perry made other statements regarding tourism income that wasn’t immediately verifiable.

Cantrell’s Action New Orleans policy organization released a statement today in response to this interview:

For immediate release

For New Orleans to grow and thrive, we have to focus on investing in the basic needs of the City. Action New Orleans supports Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s effort to explore all options to get our #fairshare of available dollars to improve funding for infrastructure.

In an unhinged interview with the Lens, J. Stephen Perry, who takes home over $430K per year to promote the City, spent most of his time tearing it down. He attacked local law enforcement. He attacked the French Quarter community. And he made bizarre threats to “embarrass people.” Listen to the interview here.

It’s time to consider the impact of 18 million annual visitors on our city’s population of 400,000. We invite tourism leaders who care about the future of our City to work with us to come up with realistic solutions that benefit everyone- from hotel owners to hospitality workers, to visitors and residents.

In an online poll by the Gambit, over 92% of respondents said more revenue should go toward infrastructure, over tourism.

Among Perry’s claims were that City Hall is leading local media “by the nose” on this issue.

We will stay with this story as it develops further.

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