TOURISM | Maybe if We All Wish Hard Enough

Business leaders share their tourism holiday wishes


Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on


This is a holiday season unlike any in our lifetimes. While I am writing this, Louisiana is still in Phase 3 COVID-19 restrictions and I am researching local companies that deliver gifts nationwide. I find myself wishing things were different and looking forward to next year, when surely, things will be better.

I think a lot of people probably feel the same way, so I reached out to people in the industry I have spoken with throughout 2020 to ask them to share their “tourism holiday wishes.”


Diane B. Lyons, CMP, DMCP, President, ACCENT New Orleans Inc., a DMC Network Company:

“I am an optimist, always looking for opportunities, situations and most of the time finding them. I have adapted our events to better work with the needs of smaller groups. We have created unique bespoke experiences for the regional drive market, as well as staycation experiences that will continue in the post COVID-19 worlds. Our clients have asked us to create and connect them with the local entertainment for virtual and hybrid meetings and fundraisers.

My Christmas wish is that we work together to think out of the box, to find creative ways to allow people to travel again soon. I wish that the tour, travel and hospitality industries in New Orleans and around the world come back full force, like no one has ever seen! May we adapt and explore the new day and the new world of travel soon! Wear masks, wash your hands, avoid large groups and social distance.”

Mark Romig, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, New Orleans & Company:

“My holiday wish for tourism is that our hospitality industry, which includes thousands of people, along with our attractions, hotels, restaurants, artists, musicians and those companies that support their work, share in a continued recovery and rebound, and have a safe and healthy year ahead for themselves, as well as for their families.”

Jennifer Kelley, Executive Director, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation:

“I wish that COVID-19 would vanish and tourism would magically restart strong in New Orleans on January 1, 2021. Of course, I know neither of these things is realistic, so my true desire is that people who are comfortable traveling will make plans to visit New Orleans sooner than later, and when they come, they will safely support the hotels, restaurants and bars of our great city. When leisure travel and conventions start to flow through the city more consistently, I believe our hospitality workers will be back on the job doing what they do best!”

Nic Clark, Owner, Civil War Tours of New Orleans:

“For Christmas, or my holiday wish, I would like for the cruise industry in Louisiana to open back up to full capacity, but even half-capacity would be nice. I say this not only for the financial health of Civil War Tours of New Orleans, but for all the tour operators, small businesses, towns and cities located along the Mississippi River that provide services to the cruise lines. A single tour boat pulling into port can make a massive difference for everyone both directly and indirectly impacted by the guests who come and visit these communities that otherwise would not, if not for being on a cruise. And with the oil and gas industry taking a beating the way that they are, New Orleans and Louisiana need tourism now more than ever.

Buddy Boe, cLED, CDME, Executive Director, River Parishes Tourist Commission:

“I hope when we each look back on our own 2020 journey, we are reminded that experiences, love and authenticity have always been and will be what matter as we move forward. If so, 2021 will be strong for both tourism and our community.”

Sarah Hester, Owner/Operator, Free Tours By Foot:

“We offer a Creole Christmas tour every year I wish people knew about! But seriously, I wish more tourists knew there were other activities in Southeast Louisiana that do not just include Bourbon Street and partying. I wish we could get back more tourists who enjoy culture, art, architecture and food.”

Emily Madero, President & CEO, French Quarter Festivals Inc.:

“This year, our team is grateful to continue to deliver on our nonprofit mission by producing our virtual Holidays New Orleans Style Concert Series. It’s actually a wish come true to continue to employ local musicians and promote New Orleans culture during this challenging time! My holiday wish is that next year, when we’re together again, we can celebrate with a renewed sense of joy as well as appreciation for the extraordinary talent and culture in our community.”