NEW ORLEANS - City Council President Jason Williams held a press conference today with leaders and decision-makers in the tourism industry to take a first step towards providing quality healthcare for hospitality workers. He was joined by District "B" Councilmember Jay H. Banks, District "C" Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, Cheryl R. Teamer, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs of New Orleans & Company, and Mark Romig, President/CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.
Service industry workers contribute every day to the tourism ecosystem and make up over 80,000 jobs. To sustain this industry it is crucial that the Mayor's Office, the New Orleans City Council, industry leaders and community partners work together to find solutions that support the health and wellness of workers. Low-cost healthcare options are not currently readily available specifically for the hospitality workers in our City, which was recently named the NY Times "Best Place to Visit in 2018" and saw over $7.05 billion in visitor spending in 2017.
Council President Jason Williams says, "For the first 300 years of this City's history, hospitality has looked one way, and I humbly submit that the next 300 years must look very different. Waitstaff, line cooks, busboys, dishwashers, housekeepers, doormen and on & on are the backbone of this industry. They are the people that visitors interface with first, last and in between. Rarely does a guest connect with a General Manager or restaurant owner. We MUST create and institutionalize healthcare and upward mobility of our hospitality workers. I have made a clarion call to decision-makers in the industry to help us solve these issues and improve the quality of life of service industry employees. These provisions will not only provide on a necessary human equity level for the folks who work every day to make New Orleans the culturally rich city it is; it will improve business in general with healthier and happier workers. I am fully committed to developing a comprehensive plan to ensure that tourism and hospitality spending is equitably distributed to all businesses, especially those that are small and diverse. The tourism dollars that are brought into this city must be shared with the folks who give so much of themselves."
Stephen Perry, President and CEO of New Orleans & Company says, "New Orleans & Company is committed to partnering with government on finding solutions to move our city forward and improving the lives of all of our workforce and all residents in every neighborhood. As the city's largest industry, proudly contributing 43 percent of the city's operating budget through sales tax and property tax, we aim to be the driving force between business growth and reinvestment in the community to benefit all residents."