Louisiana Tourism Up For Mardi Gras 2007

Travelocity Data Debunks Common Mardi Gras Myths

SOUTHLAKE, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Feb. 13, 2007–Based on Travelocity’s latest data, air travel to the New Orleans area for the weekend leading up to Mardi Gras’ grand celebrations has increased by 75 percent in 2007. With tourism nearing pre-Katrina levels statewide, the spirit of the state’s diverse Carnival celebrations will be better than ever.

According to the Louisiana Lieutenant Governor’s office, ninety percent of the hotel rooms in the state of Louisiana are fully operational, which means there are still plenty of places to stay for 2007 Mardi Gras celebrators – in New Orleans and throughout other parts of the state. In New Orleans alone there are over 60 parades planned for the coming weeks, and more than 50 Mardi Gras parades and festivities are planned throughout additional cites in Louisiana, from Lafayette to Shreveport. Visitors to the state will also find plenty of spots to indulge their taste buds, scour for fine antiques and enjoy the spirit of the season. The majority of mom-and-pop shops are open for business and ready to take your muffaletta and gumbo orders.

“We’re happy to report Louisiana is open for business and travelers have plenty of options for Mardi Gras celebrations,” said Jen Catto, senior editor for Travelocity. “Carnival can be celebrated in a variety of ways across the state, from a spring break-style party for those along New Orleans’s Bourbon Street, to family-friendly parade routes and cultural experiences all over Louisiana.”

Louisiana has more than 50 Mardi Gras celebrations throughout the state, and all take place in destinations that are open for business. Elaborate Mardi Gras festivities in host towns like Shreveport and Lafayette feature lavish parades and balls, while small towns like Mamou highlight cultural traditions such as the Courir du Mardi Gras. Based on Mardi Gras tradition, which began in 1699, masked horsemen in small towns move from house to house to “borrow” ingredients for a giant community gumbo that will be enjoyed in the center of town with live music, dancing, and activities for the entire family.

Travelocity editors have heard various concerns from travelers wondering if partaking in the celebration of Mardi Gras is really right for them. From questions regarding family-friendly destinations to doubts of a strong recovery after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Travelocity editors have identified several myths about the nature of the celebration.

Myth #1: Louisiana is not ready for visitors

Faced with an impressive three-quarter increase in Mardi Gras visitors this year as compared to 2006, the state of Louisiana is well prepared with roughly 70,000 hotel rooms. The majority of the state’s beloved mom-and-pop eateries, historic sites, and antiques shops are also open and are encouraging visitors to come and experience a joie de vivre like no other. In New Orleans, the areas popular with travelers, including the French Quarter, Garden District, and the Central Business District are once again able to accommodate them.

Myth #2: Mardi Gras is for Adults Only

In Louisiana, the “greatest free show on Earth” is by-and-large a family affair. Imaginative costumes and colorful floats make the parades a prime attraction for children. While visiting the state, kids can see how the famous floats are made at Mardi Gras World, learn about alligators at the Audubon Zoo, or take a paddlewheel ride along the Mississippi River. From children’s Krewes in Lake Charles and Lafayette to the Krewe of Barkus and Meow in Shreveport, there really is something for everyone.

Myth #3: New Orleans is the Only Place for Mardi Gras

There are nearly fifty Mardi Gras parades in the state of Louisiana. Lafayette, the unofficial French-speaking capital of Louisiana, hosts the most elaborate parades outside of New Orleans, and is an exciting place to partake in the time-honored Courir du Mardi Gras, in which townspeople run door to door in search of ingredients for a giant, community gumbo cook-off, complete with live music and dancing. Also not to be missed are the Mardi Gras celebrations in Shreveport, Natchitoches, Mamou, and Church Point.

About Travelocity

Travelocity(R) is committed to being the traveler’s champion — before, during and after the trip – and is the only online travel company that guarantees not just the price, but the entire travel experience – see www.travelocity.com/guarantee for details. This customer-driven focus, backed by 24/7 live phone support, great prices and powerful shopping technology has made Travelocity the sixth largest travel agency — booking $10.1 billion in travel worldwide in 2006. Based in Southlake, Texas, Travelocity also owns and operates Travelocity Business(R) for corporate travelers, lastminute.com, a leader in European online travel and ZUJI, a leader in Asia-Pacific online travel. Travelocity is owned by Sabre Holdings Corporation (NYSE:TSG), a world leader in travel commerce.

Andrea Collins, 212-715-2222
Amanda Borichevsky, 972-488-4790

SOURCE: Travelocity