NEW ORLEANS, US – New Orleans has been recognized as one of the best U.S. cities for gay travel with a 2008 PlanetOut Travel Award in the best domestic city category.

The PlanetOut Travel Awards recognizes cities for their efforts in reaching Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGBT) travelers through well-organized marketing campaigns and pushing for positive reforms in local business and government. Started in 1994, PlanetOut Inc. selects winners of its Travel Awards through a panel of LGBT travel experts in addition to including input from surveys and polls conducted at and

“Congratulations to New Orleans for landing in the top three domestic destinations in the 15th annual PlanetOut Travel Awards,” said Ed Salvato, corporate director of Travel Media for PlanetOut Inc. “Magical, soulful and truly unique among American cities, the Crescent City is obviously one of the favorite US getaways for our millions of members and readers, as well as our panel of gay travel experts who helped choose this year’s winners. It’s also a personal favorite. I can’t wait to return!”

In addition to the category of Best Domestic City, the PlanetOut Travel Awards also recognizes nine other categories including Best International City, Best Film Festival and Best Airline. This year’s winner of Best Domestic City went to New York, with New Orleans tying for runner-up with San Francisco.

According to Community Marketing Inc.’s 12th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Study, gay and lesbian travelers make up at least 10% of the travel industry. In 2007, New Orleans hosted 7.1 million visitors, including almost 100,000 attendees to the Southern Decadence Festival Labor Day Weekend 2007 with an estimated economic impact of $95 million. Southern Decadence Festival was started 37 years ago and has grown into one of the largest annual celebrations in New Orleans. Also known as the “Gay Mardi Gras,” the city of New Orleans has recognized the importance of this festival with an Official Proclamation.

Thomas Roth, President of Community Marketing Inc., said, “With an insatiable appetite for all things culture, including art, architecture, cuisine, music, festivals, etc., plus its genuine joie de vivre, there are few destinations that match what New Orleans has to offer gay and lesbian visitors.”

Consistently recognized as one of the top five convention and visitor bureaus in the United States, The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau is the driving force behind New Orleans’ most important industry – tourism. Today the cultural riches, sensual indulgences and unparalleled service that define the New Orleans experience continue to flourish, as they have for centuries. The most celebrated and historic core of the city – including the French Quarter, Central Business District, Warehouse and Arts District, Magazine Street, the Faubourg Marigny and Garden District – are thriving. In 2007, New Orleans welcomed 7.1 million visitors, nearly double the amount of visitors in 2006.