Hospitality industry thrives as conventions return to New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — The world’s largest gathering of cancer researchers since the pandemic began is meeting in New Orleans this weekend.

Tens of thousands of scientists and physicians will return to the Morial Convention Center for the American Association for Cancer Research conference.

“They bring 14,000 attendees to New Orleans, from 73 countries. They will fill about 30 different hotels. Fill our convention center, restaurants, shops and attractions. And we think there will be an economic impact of about $16 million,” said Kelly Shulz of New Orleans & Co.

“So these convention groups are an essential part of our economy. We really missed having them in the city in such large numbers. So we are truly honored to welcome cancer researchers to the city,” she said.

Businesses in the area are already feeling that impact, like Brennan’s restaurant in the French Quarter.

“We’re sold out now until the middle of May,” Brennan general manager Christian Pendleton said.

The pandemic has forced the restaurant to close three days a week as staff are still an issue. But the cancer research convention will help fill tables and wallets.

“We have about 24 events that I can associate with this convention filling us up this weekend and into Monday night. We have five events just Monday night that are directly related. It’s great for the staff,” Pendleton said. “It allows them to earn some extra money as everyone is trying to get out of what has been crazy for the last couple of years.”

The hotels are also delighted with the return of the convention.

“Any business that comes to town, it’s great to be able to work together and bring it to the Four Seasons,” said Mali Carow, General Manager of the Four Seasons Hotel.

Carow said hotel rooms and restaurant reservations were nearly sold out for the weekend.

“Whether our customers stay here or come to our restaurants or bars, it’s exciting to see the city open up again. You can see that not only in our guests, but our employees are so happy to be back,” she said.

It’s just the start of a busy day congress calendar with more to come in the coming months.

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