Three and half months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, there are signs the city's tourism industry is beginning to recover, as some tourist attractions reopen.
Three and a half months ago when Hurricane Katrina wiped out the city of New Orleans, it also wiped out the $5 billion-a-year tourism industry. With its famed Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras parties, New Orleans attracted ten million visitors a year and had over 38,000 hotel rooms, over 3,000 restaurants and over 800 bars and nightclubs. They employed 80,000 residents. But the devastation of the hurricane left little for tourists to visit.
After months of cleaning and rebuilding, New Orleans is showing signs of life and again hopes to attract tourists. One of its most famous attractions -- Preservation Hall -- is reopening. New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz and Preservation Hall is the place where the early influential jazz musicians, such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and King Oliver, got their start.
Tom Piazza lives in New Orleans. "When I think about things that I can't wait to get back to, certainly at the top of the list is being able to walk into Preservation Hall."
Also reopening its door to the public is the city zoo. Reopening the zoo will help build up tourism. But Ron Forman, President of the Audubon Nature Institute, says it's more significant than that.
"A city without kids and families is not a city with a heart or a soul, so this is extremely important. While we're working to rebuild our city we see a lot of men doing construction type work, cleaning up our city, but we don't see many families, so this is important."
And the families weren't the only ones who were glad the zoo is back in business. Curator Joe Forys says the animals know the difference as well. "They're used to hearing little kids voices, they can tell things are getting back to normal."
Though the city has faced some difficult months, Mr. Piazza says it will recover. "New Orleans music and New Orleans culture has a spiritual force that is recognized around the world and out of very difficult circumstances people in New Orleans have fashioned a resounding yes to life."