Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina five years ago, New Orleans saw the number of visitors to the city evaporate. New Orleans' $5 billion tourism industry slowly recovered, however, and is now once again approaching pre-Katrina visitor levels.

In 2004, the year before the Category 3 hurricane struck, New Orleans saw a record 10.1 million visitors. In 2006, the year after the floods, the numbers shrank to 3.7 million. Last year the number was up to 7.9 million visitors, according to Smith Travel Research, a hotel-industry tracking firm. The average number of annual visitors, discounting 2004, is about 8.5 million.

Renovations and Re-openings

"(People) still have the crazy perception we're still flooded," said Tod Chambers, GM of the French Quarter's Roosevelt New Orleans hotel, in an interview with After the storm the 504-room Roosevelt underwent a $170 million renovation. It re-opened on July 1 of last year.

Smith Travel Research's most recent review of the top 26 domestic tourism markets, shows that New Orleans' percent increase in revenue per available hotel room compared to its peak monthly per-room revenue leads all markets. In May, for instance, New Orleans' hotel room revenue was only 7% below its peak month. By comparison, Phoenix, Ariz., hotels were 32% below peak.

BP Disaster Sure Didn't Help

Jennifer Day, director of public relations for the New Orleans Convention and Visitor's Bureau, told DailyFinance that while there has been a distinct rebound, tourism is a perception-driven industry, and there's still work to be done. Efforts to highlight the city's recovery were set back following the BP Deep Horizon rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in April.

The rig was located 100 miles off the coast of New Orleans, but the city has seen little, if any, damage from the spill. "We have five different federal agencies performing thousands of tests, and not one of the samples has been contaminated with oil," Day said.

Day notes that the city ranked No. 7 on the list of top cities in Travel + Leisure's 2010 readers poll. New Orleans did not make the list the previous five years. "We had a couple visiting from Canada tell us yesterday that they didn't see any signs of the spill or Katrina," Day said. "That's really the case for tourists. We just have to get the word out."

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I was just there a week ago and everything was fine and looked good and safe, It's a wonderful city and deserves our support.

August 28 2010 at 12:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know how tourism can rebound all of a sudden in those Gulf states. I would steer clear from those southern states unless you don't mind consuming tainted food and drinking contaminated water. Yeck!

August 27 2010 at 10:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

well I guess they need something to get them back on their feet...since the government is too busy spending money( that they dont have ) on helping other countries in despair....I give the people of new orleans credit for their determination, and also all the individuals and groups that are lending support...and again...the government failed them drastically....

August 27 2010 at 10:25 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

A friend of mine told me he was going to new orleans,and I told him he better take his scuba gear.He could see I was not laughing,and was sure glad he did not go.It was under water in two weeks.

August 27 2010 at 5:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This is incredible...especially after watching Brian Williams on NBC show the devastation in the Ninth Ward. Those people are correct when they say "they don't want us here"'s all about big business. What would have happened if this would have been on Park Avenue? Do you think you still would have people living in delapidated buildings? Homes that are leveled to the ground...I think not.

August 27 2010 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

New Orleans has been back for a few years! If they refrain from rebuilding some dangerous ghettoes that were wiped out, New Orleans will stay alive and vibrant.

August 27 2010 at 2:48 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to gls38's comment

So basically what you're saying gls38, is that you support the ethnic cleansing that is alive and well in New Orleans? By not making housing available to people on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale you are simply asking for the cost of everything in New Orleans to rise. Not only this, without those so called 'dangerous ghetto' housing projects being reopened you forever change the ethnic makeup of one of the US's greatest historical cities. If you were shipped away from the only home you ever knew only to return to a city whose housing rents have tripled and whose housing projects have closed, it would be like being locked out of your own home by someone who professes to love you. New Orleans and Louisiana politicians ought to just put on their white robes and hoods and show themselves to be what they truly are....RACISTS!

August 27 2010 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

well Lisa...gls38 just said ghetto...she never mentioned anything about color, although I knew you assumed this...because it would give you every opportunity to use the word RACIST...anything to get that in there huh...typical i if you assumed that ghetto was black...than I guess ?? that wouldnt make her racist ? but just honest...

August 27 2010 at 10:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Where the recession at?

August 27 2010 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

until the next big hurricane comes... which will stir up the plumes and make one hell of a mess...

August 27 2010 at 2:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply