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Disaster Tourism in New Orlean's Lower Ninth Ward Angers Residents

Travelers Today       By    Lena Vazifdar

Updated: Oct 05, 2012 12:33 PM EDT

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The Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans was one area of the city that was hit hardest when Hurricane Katrina hit the historic city.

New Orleans is a tourist haven, with approximately 9 million visiting the city yearly, The Associated Press reported. The city is full of history, beautiful architecture, a vibrant nightlife, music and food scene and is home to the famous Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras that is eponymous with its cultural landscape.

When Katrina hit in 2005, what the city didn't expect was that the area that was hit hard by the hurricane, the Lower Ninth Ward, would become a tourist destination.

The AP reported that in 2006 the City Council approved an ordinance that banned tourists from coming into the neighborhood, but many are saying that it has been hardly enforced.

Some 7 years later, the Lower Ninth Ward is still recovering. The AP reported that City Couuncilman Ernest Charbonnet, said that residents in the area "complain the tour vehicles are blocking streets and damaging the roads. They also are weary of being gawked at."

He also noted to the AP that officials did not enforce the ordinance until someone filed a complaint after buses and tours were flooding into the area.

"We're fed up and tired of them coming through the neighborhood like we're some sideshow," said Vanessa Gueringer, a resident of the area said to the AP."After all the suffering we have been through, we deserve more respect than this," she said. "We don't need those big buses coming through here tearing it up."

Charbonnet is planning a meeting between tour guides and residents of the Lower Ninth Ward on Friday to discuss the ordinance and hopefully come up with a compromise, reported the AP.

Charbonnet said he believes there's room for compromise. He plans to gather tour guides and residents together Friday to begin discussing possible changes to the ordinance, proposals such as limiting bus sizes and requiring a single route to protect streets and the privacy of the residents.

Kelly Schulz, spokeswoman for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau added to the AP, "These tours are important. People come to New Orleans from all over the world, and they want to see the Lower Ninth Ward just like visitors to New York want to see the site of the World Trade Centers. It's human nature. It's curiosity. We certainly need to be respectful and not cause more suffering, but seeing these areas in person brings needed attention."

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