Official Katrina tours to begin in January
12:10 PM CST on Friday, December 9, 2005
The tourism industry—and one bus line in particular—believes tourists should be ushered into New Orleans to see Hurricane Katrina’s devastation first hand, leaving critics to question the timing and sensitivity of a so-called Katrina tour through Lakeview.
Lakeview and the now infamous 17th Street Canal have attracted the curious as of late; more and more people taking pictures and driving through an area which suffered major flooding.
New Orleans resident Suleymin Ayedin, who’s lived in the city 20 years, has visited Lakeview three times already and said he wanted to see Katrina’s impact for himself, and has cried a couple of times while looking at the damage.
Bob Salzer, a New Orleans native now living in Texas, described his journey to Lakeview as educational and humbling.
“I mean, this is my home and to see it as different as it is now is sobering," Salzer said.
The Gray Line bus company wants to cater to people like Salzer and plans to launch a tour in January, bringing passengers through sections of town which in the last three months have made headline news throughout the news.
Greg Hoffman, Gray Line Vice President and General Manager, addressed issues of sensitivity in touring the storm ravaged area, saying he lost his Lakeview home, too.
“I understand those questions…It is a very sensitive subject, believe me,” Hoffman said. “The turning point for this tour was when we decided the only way we're going to educate the rest of the country on what happened down here is when we bring people down to see it first hand."
Hoffman said tours will be on 25 passenger mini-buses but no one will be allowed to roam. Tickets will be $35 and $3 of each ticket will be donated to four different non-profit groups.
“We really don't know how popular this tour will be, we really don't know how many tourists will be in town, so we don't know if we're really going to make any money on this tour, just as we don't know if we're going to make any money off any other tours,” Hoffman said.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a great number of people came to New York City to see Ground Zero. The 17th Street Canal in Lakeview, in its own way, has become the city’s Ground Zero.
The tourism industry supports the Katrina tour with the hope that visitors would bring back to their home towns everything they see. The President of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation stressed to WWL-TV that they were not marketing the disaster.
But for the many who called these areas home before Katrina have since been displaced, and if they have concerns about their neighborhoods becoming a tourist attraction, their protest may come after the buses roll in.
The tour's route has not yet been finalized. The first buses have been scheduled to roll January 4, 2006I usually don't curse too much in my blogs because sometimes my mama reads them and I was raised not to curse around her. Sorry this time mama. What the fuck is up with this idea to give people tours of my city's devestation? If you weren't a resident at the time you had already left so you don't need to see. That may sound crazy but that's how I feel. The only people that need to see what's going on is the government assholes with the checkbooks to fix shit. We are giving tours while people are still going through drama over this. Then, we only get 3$ of every ticket for non profit groups. This asshole is going to get rich out of all of this. I am not condoning violence of any kind but I will not lose any sleep if someone sleeping in the dark inside one of those little ass FEMA trailers takes a few shots at the bus. If you want to get entertainment off of someone else's misery you deserve a few rounds passing around you.