Locals fear Bourbon Street shootings will deter visitors - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Locals fear Bourbon Street shootings will deter visitors

Some locals who cater to tourists believe the latest Bourbon Street shootings will scare some would-be visitors. They hope city tourism leaders will tap into national media to counteract the recent headlines with a message that New Orleans remains safe.

Security cameras caught the moments of desperation as people scurried on the street and on balconies to find safety as bullets flew on Bourbon Street early Sunday.

And now there is widespread concern about the fallout as the rest of the world learns about the chaos on the city's most well known street.

"It's going to definitely hurt, I mean, Bourbon Street is the main attraction," said John Bagneris, a carriage operator in the French Quarter.

Not far away on Decatur Street, Alan Minor set up his artwork just before noon.

"It's definitely a negative, you know, toward the city. But we must just continue going forward, staying positive," Minor said.

National publications and websites had blaring headlines about the gunfire which left 10 injured, according to the latest information from the New Orleans Police Department Monday afternoon.

"Oh, CNN, every body's picking it up, I mean it's going to hurt us eventually by August, you know, because everybody's booked right now for July. But by August, September when the [New Orleans] Saints start playing, we're going to have not too many people want to come here," stated Bagneris.

The Annual Essence Music and Empowerment Festival kicks off later this week in the city, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors for the nightly concerts and daily empowerment sessions.

"It's going to affect some people, you know. When you have a negative situation like that, it's going to always play on a person's mind. But for the majority of the people, they still come to New Orleans. They love New Orleans," said Minor.

Mavis Early, of the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association, said Monday afternoon that she was not aware of any hotel cancellations for the Essence Fest.

Early said occupancy for Friday will be about 85 percent. For Saturday it will be 99 percent and Sunday 98 percent. She said some hotels in the city are at 100-percent.

For its part, Essence Communications said in a prepared statement.

"Essence works closely with the City of New Orleans every year to ensure the safety of our Festival attendees. The New Orleans Police Department, along with the Louisiana State Police and other law enforcement agencies, will have an increased presence throughout the weekend and provide comprehensive security for festival goers. We are confident that the city is safe and prepared for the Festival."

Some in the city said tourism leaders should engage in a broad media blitz to ensure potential visitors that New Orleans is not a place they should shun.

"They're going to have to go on New York, Chicago, California television and let them know that New Orleans is a safe place. That's just one incident and things happen. They happen in Detroit, they happen in Chicago," said Bagneris.

He and others said the Bourbon Street atmosphere changes drastically as it gets later.

"After 10 p.m., anything could happen," added Bagneris.

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