This week, the American Academy of Ophthalmology brought an estimated 23,000 attendees to New Orleans for the association’s annual meeting, becoming the latest in a string of medical associations that have booked major meetings in the Crescent City.

The Morial Convention Center will host 11 major medical meetings in 2008 that will bring some 103,300 visitors to the city. Among them is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, which has two meetings planned in New Orleans in 2008. The ASA, which is a division of AHA, will hold the International Stroke Conference in town February 20 to 22. Expected attendance is 5,500. Then, from November 9 to 12, an estimated 27,500 will attend AHA’s Annual Scientific Sessions. “New Orleans is definitely prepared to host a major event such as Scientific Sessions,” stated Gordon F. Tomaselli, MD, FAHA, Chairman, Committee on Scientific Sessions Program, in a release. “I look forward to a great conference and record attendance.”

Further down the road, the American Association of Orthodontists announced last week that it will hold its Annual Session in the city in 2014, bringing about 20,000 attendees to town. AAO last met in New Orleans in 1996.

This year New Orleans hosted a number of large medical meetings, including the Healthcare Information & Management Society (24,789 attendees), American College of Healthcare Executives (4,000), International Association for Dental Research (4,632), American College of Cardiology (27,500), American College of Sports Medicine (4,200), Cardiovascular Institute of the South (3,000), American College of Surgeons (11,000), and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (5,000). Overall, the center hosted 94 major conventions, trade shows, and meetings in 2007.

Airlift to and from New Orleans, which large groups have cited as a major challenge to meeting in the city, is improving, with Southwest Airlines and Express Jet adding more routes. About 71 percent, or 15,568, of pre-Hurricane Katrina seats are available per day into and out of Louis Armstrong International Airport. The New Orleans CVB is working with the airlines and airport officials to ensure adequate lift.