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New Orleans Reports 10.7 Percent Increase in Visitors in 2010

Features & Advice | April 14, 2011

New Orleans Reports 10.7 Percent Increase in Visitors in 2010

New Orleans’ tourism industry has achieved a major milestone, welcoming 8.3 million visitors in 2010, a 10.7 percent increase over 2009, and the first time the city reached 8 million visitors since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Those 8.3 million visitors spent $5.3 billion, a $1.1 billion increase over 2009 and the highest spending in the city’s history, according to the 2010 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile survey conducted by the University of New Orleans (UNO) Hospitality Research Center for New Orleans destination marketing partners.

Among the survey’s key findings, visitation increased by 800,000 (10.7  percent) from 7.5 million people in 2009 to 8.3 million in 2010. Visitor expenditures increased by $1.1 billion (23.6 percent) in 2009 to $5.3 billion in 2010. Vacation/pleasure visitors spent an average of $569 per trip or $142 per day and 77.7 percent of visitors surveyed were in New Orleans for vacation/pleasure. Among the visitors surveyed, 22.3 percent were in New Orleans for a convention, association, trade show, corporate meeting or general business travel. And 47.9 percent of business travelers extended their stay for pleasure for an average of 2.1 days.

The number of visitors ages 25 to 34, a demographic New Orleans began targeting more aggressively in 2010, saw an increase from 15.4 percent in 2009 to 18.4 percent in 2010. Tourism is New Orleans’ most important economic engine, employing 70,000 people and pumping $5 billion in new capital into the city each year, more than any other business sector. Domestic and international visitors spent $9.3 billion in the state of Louisiana in 2010.

Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “For the New Orleans hospitality industry and all of its private and public partners, it is energizing to see such strong results. Coming out of the strong economic downturn, and on top of the difficult perception challenges created by the BP oil spill, the city hosted multiple attendance record-breaking conventions, festivals, had strong leisure and transient results and ended the year as the number one fastest-growing destination in the country for hotel performance. The addition of 800,000 visitors gives the city tremendous momentum that we want to keep growing in the coming years. However, what happens in New Orleans does not stay in New Orleans … all of Louisiana will benefit. Travel and tourism is the seventh-highest employer in Louisiana and one out of 10 Louisiana jobs depend on this vital industry. Tourism is the only industry that generates such a high return -- for every one dollar invested in marketing and promotion of Louisiana, $17 is returned to the state.”

The 2010 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile report also found that 76.1 percent of visitors had an income over $50,000 with 35.2 percent over $100,000; 39.1 percent of New Orleans visitors were in town for the first time; and repeat visitation increased from 58.4 percent in 2009 to 60.9 percent in 2010. Visitation from top feeder markets outside of Louisiana were Texas, California, Florida, Mississippi and New York. Visitors ages 50 to 64 made up the largest demographic for 2010 visitors (35.4 percent), followed by 35 to 49 (32.2 percent), 25 to 34 (18.4 percent), 18 to 24 (5.2 percent ) and 65 and older (8 percent).

Overnight visitor stays in New Orleans went from 4.3 in 2009 to an average of 4.1 nights in 2010. The proportion of overnight visitors staying in a hotel remained steady at 57.7 percent. Average party size held steady at 3.1 people. The majority of visitors who stayed in a hotel made reservations through the hotel website (34 percent), a travel agent (22.6 percent), or a travel website (20.5 percent). According to the survey, 7.6 percent of visitors called their hotel directly, while 6.1 percent used association housing during their stay in New Orleans. The majority of New Orleans area visitors surveyed arrived by airplane (52.2 percent) or in their personal vehicle (40.2 percent). And 90.2 percent of visitors who indicated that a cruise was the primary purpose of their trip extended their trip on average 2.4 nights. For more information, visit


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