Spring Break Crowd

Spring Break Crowd

I love posting cheesy beach pictures! Had no cause to do it before, but now I’ve got plenty!!

Alexa V.  Staden and her fiance had just one thought when it came to spring break this year: Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

New Orleans tourism officials, who have begun an advertising campaign to attract younger visitors, believe the happy convergence will give them a boost over Mardi Gras 2010, the biggest since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

“We figured it was now or never,” said Von Staden, who recently completed her master’s at the University of Florida. “Because Mardi Gras is so late this year that it matches up with spring break. Who knows when that will happen again?”

Spring Break in Panama City Beach, FL

Spring Break in Panama City Beach, FL

Mardi Gras is March 8. The next time it will be this late is in 2038, when it falls on March 9. New Orleans tourism officials, who have begun an advertising campaign to attract younger visitors, believe the happy convergence will give them a boost over Mardi Gras 2010, which was the biggest since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. A study done for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau said the city was not getting its share of 18- to 34-year-old visitors, despite its reputation as a party town.

New advertising campaigns are being geared to that demographic, said bureau spokeswoman Kelly Schulz. “I was kind of surprised by it,” Schulz said. “We are family friendly, but we also think people should see more of our night life.” The campaign, with the theme “New Orleans, you’re different here,” puts further emphasis on the city’s food, music and night life.

At Mardi Gras, the party takes to the streets, packing the parade routes in many areas, and turning Bourbon Street into a raucous, X-rated celebration for the young and free-spirited. Certainly those in the hospitality business are expecting a nice bump, even above last Mardi Gras when the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl victory was helping to draw people to the city.

“This year we are about 30 to 35 percent ahead of the pace compared to last year and we had a very good year last year,” said Gil Zanchi, general manager for the New Orleans Marriott and the five other Marriott hotels in the city.

Spring Break will have to bring lots of visitors to equal last year. 2010 was an extraordinary Mardi Gras as the Saints won their first NFC Championship and very first Super Bowl during those last weeks of Carnival 2010.  Those 2 wins packed the French Quarter almost as much as Mardi Gras does.

Students looking for spring break adventures can’t be credited for all the boost in room bookings, said Diana K. Schwam, who wrote the “Frommer’s New Orleans” guide book.

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