NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Communities around the state — from New Orleans to Natchitoches — are counting on tourism in the final few weeks of the year to boost local businesses and generate tax revenue.

Thousands are pouring into New Orleans to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and the 40th annual Bayou Classic football game between Grambling State University and Southern University.

Less than a month later, the city will host the New Orleans Bowl, which pits the Sun Belt Conference against Conference USA.

Natchitoches, Louisiana's oldest settlement, celebrates the 87th annual Festival of Lights — a key event that organizers say helps move businesses from the red into the black.

Organizers say the event, held over six weekends, helps carry the area's hotels, restaurants and retail businesses through the year.