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New Orleans doesn’t want to have Indianapolis’ problems, and its tourism officials are moving quickly to distance themselves from actions by the state’s governor.
Yesterday Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed an executive order that sought to enact the same religious freedom laws that allow people to selectively obey laws based upon their religious beliefs. Often that results in persecution of gays and lesbians, similar to laws in Russia supported by strongman Vladimir Putin. The executive order followed the failure of a state house bill that would have enacted the same provisions.
A similar law in Indiana resulted in multiple cancelled meetings at Indianapolis’ convention center, multiple warnings from travel brands, a tourism rebrand, and a million dollar advertising campaign in an attempt to fix mistakes once the law was rolled back.
Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau responded by stating, “New Orleans has historically demonstrated itself as one of the most welcoming, open, tolerant, and inviting communities in the world.”
The CVB also stated “This executive order has no effect on the law of Louisiana.”
The statement from the New Orleans CVB went to lengths to explain that the moves by the governor were purely political pandering as he seeks a possible presidential bid. “This executive order is largely a political statement by our conservative governor in support of his national position on the issue,” the press release reads. “It is important for those who visit Louisiana to know that its effect in essence is that of a political campaign document.”
Governor Jindal may be aware of the economic impact a move like this could make on the state, but his history as a financial steward of the state has been dismal up to now. During his time in office he turned a $1 billion surplus into a $1.6 billion deficit and multiple credit downgrades from Moody’s, even though settlements from oil companies added unexpected cash to the state’s coffers.
In a statement, Mark Romig, President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, said “We will continue with our CVB and economic development partners to promote and market New Orleans and Louisiana as destinations for the world’s greatest vacations, conventions and meetings, and special events and as premier sites for economic growth and expansion that offer the ultimate in inclusiveness, tolerance, and acceptance with a dynamic, vibrant and entrepreneurial bent and culturally rich climate. This is a hallmark of who we are as people.”