The international markets are reopening today after Friday’s announcement that the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. One economic development expert considers how New Orleans will handle what’s ahead.
Michael Hecht is president of Greater New Orleans Inc. He monitors international developments for any impacts that could hit the regional economy.
“In the near term, probably the most immediate impact that we’re going to feel is the weakened pound, will mean it will be more expensive for UK tourists, who are one of our main sources of tourism, to come to the United States and to New Orleans," he said.
The UK is in the top ten for Louisiana exports, and he expects that to be stable. He says the biggest long-term unknown is if other EU members will break away and create long-term economic and political instability.
GNO Inc. has been working over the past several years to get direct flights from New Orleans to London on British Airways.
“I think that in the mid-term, to the degree that there’s any uncertainty for British Airways about accessing the single EU market, that’s just going to increase the importance for them of expanding to other markets across the Atlantic, including New Orleans. So it’s unclear what effect it will have, and our discussions with British Airways continue, he said.
And Hecht says that New Orleans has very little control over the issues playing out around the world.