Letter: Investment in French Quarter will benefit tourism industry

In reference to “Mayor celebrates success of tourism”:

When a fragile, antique piece of furniture is abused, it breaks. That’s because having existed for more than 100 or so years, and undergone numerous repairs, the furniture is simply unable to sustain abnormal treatment.

So it is with the Vieux Carre. Thirteen million tourists by 2018?

That is roughly a 50 percent increase over the 9 million who visited in 2013. If the additional 4 million visitors were equally distributed over 365 days, that would mean more than 36,000 people per day. Compare this with the country of Ireland, which averages just more than 6 million visitors per year.

Although the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation under the able leadership of Mark Romig has done a laudable job of marketing the entire city through its “Follow Your NOLA” campaign, everyone knows that at one time or another, tourists to New Orleans come to the French Quarter.

What’s more of a concern, as the article so aptly states, tourists are not equally distributed among all the days of the year. The largest groups of tourists come for sports events and festivals.

The “full house” mentioned in the article actually began with the Saints game on Sunday, folding into the Sugar Bowl on Thursday, and for good measure, New Year’s Eve thrown in the middle. The French Quarter overfloweth.

I’m told businesses in the Quarter are booming, and that’s great. We need booming businesses in the French Quarter. But we also must have residents living in these fragile, historic buildings, maintaining them, going about their normal everyday lives. If that element disappears, the goose that laid the golden egg will have its head lopped off.

VCPORA supports tourism, and we ask for better management of the effects of tourism: cleaner streets, more public toilets, adequate lighting, more police on the streets, enforcement of existing ordinances that protect the fragile infrastructure of this neighborhood.

It’s all about balance, folks. Balance and respect. If 2014 becomes the year that we finally begin to reinvest more in our French Quarter, in terms of infrastructure, tourism management and enforcement of laws and regulations, both residents and businesses can continue to enjoy this priceless, cultural asset for another 300 years to come.

Carol Allen

retired school superintendent

New Orleans