This week honors the hardworking women and men in the hospitality and tourism industry in New Orleans, who welcome 17.74 million visitors annually, which created an economic impact of $8.7 billion to our local economy in 2017. Last week marked the 50th anniversary of one of our more famous tourism attractions – the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Locals and visitors from all walks of life assembled at the Fairgrounds to enjoy live music and eat delicious food from around the state. Proceeds from the festival help to sponsor programs that fuel our cultural economy.

Amid one of the most joyous and visible times of the year for our city, the failure of a century old water pipe flooded a major thoroughfare, disrupting the lives of our residents by closing schools and businesses. The economic loss, however, reached well beyond our district, as many parents were unable to work throughout the city due to school closures within District 98.

As of this week, the tourism and hospitality industry has pledged a significant financial commitment to upgrading our city’s critical infrastructure.

As members of the industry, Neal and I would like to congratulate Governor Edwards, Mayor Cantrell, and the hospitality and tourism community for finding common ground to solve this existential issue that affects every New Orleanian.

More work remains to be done at the Capitol where members of the New Orleans delegation have filed several bills providing for recurring revenue that must accompany the $50 million one-time payment.

I would like to close with a heartfelt thank you to the hospitality industry, which allowed me to support myself throughout college and taught me the value of hard work, professionalism and treating all people with respect.