The Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is betting on the ability of New Orleans to rebound from the swamping it suffered from Hurricane Katrina by announcing yesterday that it will hold its annual conference and exhibition in the Big Easy next year.
HIMSS President and Chief Executive Officer H. Stephen Lieber, after touring the city in November 2005 with members of his staff, meeting with local officials and business leaders and consulting with the organization's leadership and exhibitors, said he felt "very comfortable" that New Orleans would be sufficiently recovered to host the show, which is expected to draw 24,000 visitors and require the provision of between 12,000 to 14,000 hotel rooms.
The HIMSS show was last held in New Orleans in 2001. "One of the questions that people are going to have is, 'What kind of shape is it in, is it really open for business?' " Lieber said. "So, we looked at the situation there and are extremely satisfied with the availability of rooms and we're still 14 months out from the event." Pre-Katrina, the city had 38,000 hotel rooms within 15 miles of downtown and 21,000 rooms within walking distance of the Morial Convention Center along the Mississippi River, according to Kitty Ratcliffe, executive vice president of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. A majority of the hotels near the center are operating now, Ratcliffe said.
The 2006 HIMSS show will be in San Diego, Feb. 12-16.