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 August 25, 2015
New Orleans Announces Convention Industry Panel Discussion During Katrina 10 Commemoration

 One decade after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is a thriving city, considered among the top meeting destinations in the country. To commemorate the 10 year anniversary, the city will host a full week of citywide events, including a series of panel discussions on every sector affected by the storm. The City of New Orleans and New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) announce "A Convention Destination Once Again," a panel of meetings industry leaders who will discuss their commitment to New Orleans, changes in the hospitality industry and how New Orleans has continued to evolve as a top meeting destination. Following the panel discussion Tuesday, August 25, be on the lookout for a video news release to be distributed Wednesday, August 26.

When Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, the New Orleans CVB was forced to cancel $2 billion in convention business, helped to relocate hundreds of scheduled meetings and began to overcome unprecedented brand impairment. Ten years later, New Orleans is once again hosting prominent meetings and has been named the number one city in the U.S. for business travelers by Condé Nast Traveler, among a myriad of other awards and accolades. Bringing 9.52 million visitors to the city who spent more than $6 billion in 2014, the tourism and hospitality industry employs 80,000 New Orleanians. This thriving industry is the city's largest economic driver supporting nearly one-third of the city's operating budget.

"New Orleans has long held a high standing as a favorite in the meeting and conventions industry. Our recovery is in large part a testament to the strength of the relationships and support that we received from many clients who share a special passion for the city and for the people of our industry. We are celebrating this week a vibrant and stronger New Orleans today because of the commitment our clients shared with us to return and to bring their business back to New Orleans as well as many others who have come for the first time with their events and business, and our conventions community is truly grateful," said Cara Banasch, MBA, Vice President of Convention Sales and Strategy for the NOCVB.

Tuesday's panel will be moderated by Roosevelt Hotel General Manager and NOCVB Board Chair Tod Chambers, as well as respected local PR professional John Deveney. The following panelists played a pivotal role in the city's recovery by bringing their meetings and events back to New Orleans generating millions of dollars in economic impact:

- Robert Kolinek CEM, CMP: President, Helen Brett Enterprises
- Steve Pitt: Vice President, Conventions & Expositions, National Automobile Dealers Association
- Joy Collins: General Manager, Essence Communications Inc.
- Pam Henry: Deputy Executive Director, Water Environment Federation
- Marty D. Balogh: Associate Executive Director, Meetings and Travel Group, American Bar Association

This 10 year anniversary marks a vital milestone in the history of the city, where New Orleans and the nation will no longer look back and define the city through the prism of a catastrophic storm, but instead will look to the future of the city, its prosperity and its resilience.

Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, Rhythms I Ballroom, 500 Canal St.
Tuesday, August 25; 10 a.m.