Tourism industry gets big boost from international travelers

Tourism industry gets big boost from international travelers
Travel experts say a 3-night trip to N.O. costs approximately $1,248. (Source: WVUE Photo)

The state's tourism industry, which has New Orleans as it's top draw, is getting a big boost due to increased travelers from aboard.  Recently released statistics indicate that international inbound tourism in Louisiana grew by over one-third from 2014 to 2015, putting their growth at or among the best in the United States. .

The statistics are part of a recent report by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO), a section within the International Trade Administration. The growth puts Louisiana second and only behind Michigan for overall state growth in international visitation, and puts New Orleans as the number one U.S. city for growth in inbound foreign travel.

Louisiana's international inbound volume grew an estimated 36 percent increase for 2015 over 2014, and New Orleans international travel grew 37 percent over the same time period.

"This is such exciting news for our state as we are working toward growing international visitation after an extremely successful IPW conference held in New Orleans in June," said Lieutenant Governor Nungesser. "My goal is to see this number continue to increase steadily over the next several years, and that we will continue to market ourselves as an exciting destination for international visitors to explore and experience."

"This is the third consecutive year of double digit growth in international inbound visitation and is proof that the investment made by the Louisiana Office of Tourism is resonating with our international customers," said Kyle Edmiston, Assistant Secretary of Louisiana Office of Tourism. "We appreciate the support of our many partners in this success such as Brand USA, New Orleans CVB, our eight international representation offices, and the many DMO's, attractions, hotels, and events that draw international visitors into our great state."

State tourism officials say to put Louisiana's growth into perspective, total U.S. international visitation only grew by three percent between 2014 and 2015. During the same period, New York City and its home state - the most popular U.S. destination city and state among international travelers for the last 15 consecutive years - only saw a two percent increase in foreign visitors in the same period.

The 2015 results were published in the NTTO's 2015 Survey of International Air Travelers (SIAT), which polls international visitors traveling to the U.S. by air to see where they plan to travel and their individual trip characteristics, such as why they are traveling and the activities in which they will partake. The SIAT report said 77.5 million foreigners visited the U.S. in 2015, a three percent increase over the prior year. Behind New York City, the top U.S. cities for international traveler volume in order are Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Honolulu/Oahu, Washington DC, Chicago and Boston. New Orleans ranks 23rd nationally in foreign travel volume.

Behind New York State, the top U.S. states/territories for international traveler volume in order are Florida, California, Nevada, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, Guam and Arizona. Louisiana ranks 16th nationally in foreign travel volume.

In regard to traveler characteristics, the SIAT report said foreign travel to the U.S. is primarily driven by leisure/vacation and visiting friends and relatives, but that business and convention travel to the U.S. remain strong.

Statistics also indicate the average number of states/destinations visited by foreigners (1.5), their length of stay (17.8 nights) and the size of their travel party (1.7) slightly increased, as did the incidence of first-time U.S. travelers (24 percent).

Top long-haul markets for leisure travel into the U.S. are the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, South Korea, China, Argentina, Australia and Italy.

Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.