NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Visitors to New Orleans spent a record $7.41 billion dollars in 2016, that's a 5.1percent increase in visitor spending in 2015.
2016 also set a record for the number of visitors to the city. 10.45 million visitors came to New Orleans last year, the highest since 2004.
The statistics come from the 2016 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile study, completed by the University of New Orleans (UNO) Hospitality Research Center for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) and New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC).
"The results of last year's survey demonstrate that we are not just continuing the visitation and visitor spending growth we have delivered over the past seven years, but we have now posted historic highs in both categories. These achievements are the result of a strategy that attracts a combination of carefully targeted convention business and leisure travelers through tactics which leverage paid media, earned public relations exposure and special events to market New Orleans to the world. As the state continues to grapple with budget deficits, the New Orleans tourism industry grows ever stronger, adding to our economy much needed jobs and tax revenues," said Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"The New Orleans tourism industry experienced yet another breakthrough year in 2016, this time making history for the number of visitors to our city and visitor spending," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "This exciting achievement is a testament to our city's unique ability to host tourists and major events like no other. As we approach our tricentennial, I look forward to 2017 being an even bigger year for the tourism industry in New Orleans."
"Our marketing strategy, aimed at attracting the leisure travelers, continues to provide dividends to our economy," said Mark Romig, President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. "Going into 2017, we continue to work side by side with our industry partners, especially the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, the New Orleans CVB and the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association, to reach as many potential visitors as possible with our creative messaging."
Tourism leaders point to their work attracting international visitors. British Airways will begin direct flights from London to New Orleans this month, and Condor Airlines will begin seasonal direct flights from Frankfurt, Germany this year.
"Our analysis of the research results shows that New Orleans over the past several years has dramatically increased the quality of the foundational pillars necessary for a top tourism destination. Potential visitors and repeat visitors have become increasingly aware of the unique and elevated visitor experience that is a result of New Orleans' exquisite restaurants, lavish hotels, sporting events, convention center, varied and numerous festivals, museums, and other attractions," said Dr. John Williams, Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of New Orleans. "This combination of attributes provides an extremely strong competitive edge as New Orleans sets new benchmarks for tourism visitation and spending."
The UNO study found visitors who stayed in hotels overnight spent an average of $1,033/person per trip in 2016. Research also found that most visitors (28.5 percent) traveled to the city during the second quarter of 2016, which can be related to Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, and conventions.
Below are more findings from the UNO study:
• Visitors to New Orleans came more frequently from Louisiana, outside of the New Orleans Metro Area (15.6 percent) and Texas (9.3 percent). The next top feeder markets were Mississippi (7.0 percent), California (6.7 percent), Florida (6.5 percent), and New York (4.5 percent).
• While considering overnight visitation only, the top feeder markets in 2016 were Texas (10.4 percent), Louisiana, outside the New Orleans Metro Area (9.2 percent), California (7.8 percent), Florida (6.8 percent), New York (5.1 percent) and Mississippi (4.7 percent).
• The proportion of visitors with income of $200,000 and over reached the highest figure since 2012 (11.2 percent); 22.5 percent had a household income of $100,000 - $149,999.
• The percentage of single visitors to New Orleans, not widowed or divorced, increased from 17.2 percent in 2015 to 17.8 percent in 2016.
• Respondents that identified themselves as LGBT, an increase from 4.1 percent in 2015: 4.7 percent.
• There was a slight increase in respondents who reported having children under the age of 18 living in their household: 23.8 percent.
• Visitors age 50-64 made up the largest demographic for 2016 (33.0 percent), followed by 35-49 years old (28.0 percent). During 2016, the percentage of respondents in the 25-34-years-old group represented an increase from 2015 (17.8 percent), while the 65-years or older group increased from 2015 (15.6 percent).
• Average number of people per travel party remained comparable to previous years in 2016 at 3.0.
• Most visitors surveyed arrived in their personal vehicle increased in 2016 (48.3 percent) while the number of visitors arriving by airplane decreased slightly in 2016 (44.7 percent).