May 31, 2023 - News

New Orleans welcomes party tourism while other cities crack down

Mardi Gras participants on balconies overlook celebrants walking down Bourbon Street this past February. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Some international cities are sending stern-if-subtle messages to tourists — the party is over. Or, at the very least, a little mellower.

  • Yes, but: Our fair New Orleans, you might guess, is not following that trend.

Why it matters: Rule changes and anti-partying PR campaigns are unfolding around the world after years of mounting frustration with nuisance behaviors and crime that travels with partying tourists.

  • As reins tighten elsewhere, it could mean a boost in party tourism in New Orleans, where local tourism officials say they’re keeping the lights on.

You can’t stay here: In Amsterdam, a city long known for its tolerance of “soft drugs” like marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms, a new campaign asks debauchery-seeking tourists to “stay away.”

  • Proposed rule changes, aimed mostly at 18-to-35-year-old men, would also curb weed smoking on the Red Light District streets and close down clubs and sex work earlier in the night, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Bans and curfews: In Miami, the city promoted a fitness campaign during spring break, banned takeaway alcohol after 6pm and imposed a curfew for the third straight year after two fatal shootings in March, Axios Miami’s Martin Vassolo reported.

See yourselves out: In Gulf Shores, Alabama, in 2016, local officials banned booze on beaches and followed it up with active enforcement.

  • “We had the gun loaded, ready to pull the trigger,” Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft told the Economist.

Zoom out: Not everyone is convinced that partying tourists need to back off.

  • Despite reporting in the Economist that college students aren’t big spenders — they have a reputation for guzzling cheap beer and cramming too many people into too small hotel rooms for a reason, apparently — some cities are still ready and willing to host them.
  • Places like South Padre Island are actively wooing these tourists. The city spent $15,000 advertising on college campuses this year, the Economist reported.

The Big Easy?: In New Orleans, there seems to be little appetite for changing the messaging as the city’s reputation grows beyond Bourbon Street, says New Orleans & Company president and CEO Walt Leger.

  • More visitors “are discovering what locals have always known — we are a city with an arts and culture scene that rivals anywhere in the country,” Leger tells Axios.
  • “We will continue to welcome everyone with open arms,” he continues. “We simply ask that visitors obey our laws, behave responsibly and respect our culture.”
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