Jazz Fest is wrapping up this weekend and I have seen positive reports about its role in the city's healing.
I'll always remember a conversation I had with restaurateur Ti Martin ( Cafe Adelaide
and Commander's Palace
) back in November. Her commitment to bringing back New Orleans was incredible. Her disappointment in some of the businesses that left the city was impactful. Fortunately, there are many like Ti in New Orleans, and assuming they all embrace the same passion, the area will certainly recover.
My conversation with Ti inspired me to do something I thought of doing shortly after Katrina -- have our annual marketing meeting in the city and be one of the first major companies to begin the comeback with their Meetings and Convention business... During the meeting, we took time to pick thousands of pounds of citrus for the Second Harvest Food Bank
as a way to give back to a community that has supported us for years... and of course, we had a little fun while we were there... Some of us are still a little hung over from the trip, and I can assure you there were a few bars and restaurants that were happy we feel the way we do. I just love the food and drink down there.
Southwest's rebuilding plan in New Orleans continues as well. We have added more flights and in June, we will begin serving more destinations - Las Vegas, Phoenix, Baltimore/Washington DC, Ft. Lauderdale, and Chicago.
Here's to a successful Jazz Fest and to the reconstruction of one of America's great cities.