Photos: Big Easy returns

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  1. Katrina's mess

    A junked car lies near empty houses in the Lakeview neighborhood near the site of the levee breach on the 17th Street Canal, August 29, 2005. More than five months after caused by Hurricane Katrina made landfall, there was little progress in some areas of New Orleans. Today, tours are offered to visitors to have a better understanding of events pre and post Katrina. (David Rae Morris / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Big Easy blues

    Costumed revelers dressed as blue roof tarps pose at the annual MOMs Ball, thrown each year by the Krewe of Misfits, Orphans and Mystics in New Orleans. Many of this years Mardi Gras floats and costumes reference the blue tarps that still protect broken roofs across the city after Hurricane Katrina. (Matthew Cavanaugh / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Soul sounds

    Jen Pearl (L) and Michelle Loughnane stand under an umbrella with a reference to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, April 2006. Jazz Fest '07 will be held on April 27-29 and May 4-6. (Lee Celano / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Dancing in the streets

    A member of the Young Olympia Aide and New Look Social Aid and Pleasure Club dances in a second line parade at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. (Lee Celano / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Jeweled celebration

    Members of the Krewe of Thoth throw beads as they travel down St. Charles Avenue where thousands of revelers showed up to enjoy 2006 Mardi Gras festivities. Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") is the day before Ash Wednesday, and a celebration of the last the day before the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. Mardi Gras 2007 will be observed on Feb. 20. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Eye candy

    Revelers ogle a woman exposing herself on Bourbon St. during Mardi Gras festivities in the French Quarter of New Orleans. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Closing time

    Orleans Parish mounted Police Officers march down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter announcing the official end of Mardi Gras 2006. (Sean Gardner / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A shout for freedom

    "Big Chief" Victor Armstrong wears an elaborate Mardi Gras Indian costume. The Indian tradition of Mardi Gras pays homage to the relationship between Native Americans and escaped African slaves of the 1700s. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters via Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 4/2/2007 1:53:57 PM ET 2007-04-02T17:53:57

Tourism officials still trying to lure leisure visitors back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina have put together a guidebook aimed at gay and lesbian travelers.

New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corp. and the Philadelphia-based advertising agency The Altus Group plan to release the 30-page New Orleans City Navigator in late May - at the start of the normally slow summer tourist season.

"This is very exciting for us," said Sandy Shilstone, chief executive of the Tourism and Marketing Corp., a not-for-profit group that promotes leisure travel in New Orleans.

The guide will promote activities popular with gay and lesbian travelers, such as Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence and Halloween, as well as the usual museums and restaurants, said Ellen Kempner, vice president and management supervisor at Peter A. Mayer advertising, which is managing the project.

Kempner said she did not know how much the promotion would cost.

"We try to pick up where the mainstream travel guides leave off," said Bill Gehrman, associate publisher of the guide. "We'll talk about the fantastic food, the music tradition, and give family-friendly suggestions. But we'll also talk about gay history."

Gehrman said the guide will also feature the city's gay-friendly bars, bookstores and community centers.

It's the first time the corporation has created an entire guidebook marketing the city to a niche group.

"Outside of the big general visitors guide nothing has been done at this scope," Kempner said.

The tourism and marketing corporation had planned to create a guide targeted to the gay community in 2005, but plans were put on hold after Katrina.

Before Katrina, leisure tourists made up more than 70 percent of the more than 10 million yearly visitors to the city. Though there are no comparable figures for 2005 and 2006, tourism officials say the number has fallen.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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