Mark your calendars – February 28 and April 28 – May 7, 2006

Those are the dates of Mardi Gras and the 2006 New Orleans Jazz Festival respectively.

Back in January, several people including The Eclectic Econoclast suggested (rightly so) that one of the best things the industrialized nations could do to help the countries hit by the tsunami was to liberalize trade practices. Well, there’s a parallel here. If you think you might like to go to Mardi Gras in the French Quarter someday, 2006 might be the year to do it. I suspect the more people they have confirming reservations or trying to get new ones, the easier the financing will be for any restoration. But if all else fails, just drink enough and sleep in Jackson Park with the homeless. I wonder if Pat O’Brien’s will be serving Hurricanes?

As far as Mardi Gras, ‘Get me to New Orleans’

Mark Hoffmann of Sports Leisure Vacations in Sacramento said tourism is vital to New Orleans’ economy and encouraged travelers not to cancel their trips if they don’t occur in the near future.

“If you want to know what you can do to help these people, … don’t have a knee-jerk reaction and cancel plans that are six or eight months away,” he said. “These people are going to need people to come and visit them and spend money.”

Hoffman’s agency organizes an annual Mardi Gras trip to New Orleans, he said, and so far only one of the 20 people currently signed up has expressed concern about going. As of now the February trip is still on, and Hoffman doesn’t expect the hurricane to put much of a damper on the annual celebration.

Regarding the Jazz Festival, this from Forbes.

Organizers are hopeful the city will be ready for it by April 2006, but they can’t be sure.

“The next few months will be critical in determining whether we can put it on,” says George Wein, who runs Festival Productions, the show’s organizer. “It will depend on how operable New Orleans is, and how much the city’s image changes.”

For now, Festival Productions will set up an office in Memphis and move ahead as if the show will go on. Indeed, officials of the production company say Baton Rouge is a possible alternative–which would keep it in Louisiana, at least.

And I don’t want to leave out Mississippi, so how about those Biloxi Casinos.

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