Mon Amie

New Orleans ranks as one of the “most tourist-friendly” U.S. cities

The first time I came to New Orleans was the first time I tasted a Sazerac. I thought drinking one of the city’s oldest cocktails should be done at one of the city’s oldest bars, so I walked into Arnaud’s restaurant and took a seat at its French 75 bar. 

My husband and I were the only people there and the bartender struck up a conversation with us after he made our delicious cocktails. I unfortunately can’t remember his name, but I will always remember his hospitality. When he realized we had no knowledge of the “hidden” Mardi Gras Museum above the restaurant, he escorted us to it himself and told us stories about Germaine Cazenave Wells while we admired her gowns and glittering tiaras.

As my husband and I left Arnaud’s and walked through the French Quarter that night, we felt incredibly welcome. Compared to our dear New Yorkers, the ease of conversation with New Orleanians was a delight. People looked us in the eyes, they said hello and, much to my husband’s dismay, it took a bit longer to pay for items because the cashier would likely start to talk to you about the weather, your favorite recipe, or how the Saints were playing.

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Something I greatly appreciate about New Orleans and her residents is how easy it is to be nice to people. It’s no surprise to me that we have earned another accolade, this time as one of the “Most tourist-friendly cities in the U.S.”

Expedia’s travel blog, Viewfinder, used a variety of criteria to rank the cities. New Orleans earned the highest rating in five of them: Helpful Tourism Board; Things To Do; Quantity/Quality of Hotel Options; City/Discovery Tours; and Amenities. The remaining two categories, Access To an Airport or Major Transit Center and Weather, earned four stars. Since the weather is out of our hands, we’ll call that one a mulligan.

Our hospitality leadership sees this as another win for New Orleans in advance of our tricentennial.

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“New Orleans prides itself on welcoming visitors from every corner of the globe to explore our rich culture, southern hospitality and authenticity that can’t be matched anywhere else,” said Stephen Perry, president and CEO of New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, in a press release. “It’s an incredible honor to be recognized for all that we offer to our visitors. As we near our tricentennial in 2018, we will continue to showcase our beautiful hotels, world-renowned chefs and restaurants, tours and attractions that continue make New Orleans one of the best cities on Earth.”

“We thank Expedia readers for naming us one of the most tourist-friendly places in the United States,” said Mark Romig, president and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, in the same press release. “From our hard working and caring tourism industry workers to our music, food and culture, our doors are open and smiles are waiting for you.”

I appreciate Romig’s recognition of our hard working and caring tourism industry workers. The Arnaud’s bartender didn’t have to be nearly as friendly as he was. He crafted and served us excellent Sazeracs and his job was done. But he went beyond that and gave us not only a cocktail, but a cherished memory. That talent, which so many of our tourism industry workers possess, is what sets New Orleans apart.

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