City of New Orleans Celebrates 7.7% Increase in Visitation in First Half of 2011, Hosting 4.8 Million Visitors
New Orleans hosted 4.8 million visitors in the first half of 2011, an increase of 7.7% over the same period in 2010. These visitors spent a total of $3.1 billion, a boost of more than 10% over January – June 2010.
These figures are the result of the 2011 University of New Orleans (UNO) Hospitality Research Center’s 2011 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile, commissioned by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC).
Dr. Janet Speyrer, Co-Director of the Hospitality Research Center (HRC) commented, “Based on strong performance in the first half of the year, 2011 is expected to be a robust year for both the number of total visitors and their spending. While this news is certainly positive, one should resist the temptation to double the half-year values to get visitor statistics for the full year. Typically the industry’s performance is better in the first half of the year than in the second.”
Of the 4.8 million visitors to date, 77.2% were visiting New Orleans for leisure, 14.4% attended conventions, associations, corporate meetings, and trade shows, and 8.4% were in New Orleans for general business. Of all overnight visitors, 46.5% stayed in a hotel, while 30.0% were visiting friends and relatives. The average number of nights stayed by all leisure visitors was 3.7 nights, which is a 1.5% decrease from 2010. On the spending front, per-trip expenditures among leisure travelers were up in all categories except for bars and nightclubs. The largest jump in per-trip expenditures was in lodging, with a 20.7% increase from the same period in 2010, and in local transportation, with a 20.8% increase from 2010.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “The UNO visitor study provides strong evidence of the continued upward trend of the New Orleans tourism industry. This growth is excellent news demonstrating the resiliency of the industry and the importance the cultural economy plays in the overall economic health of our city and region. Over the next 18 months, New Orleans will play host to an unprecedented series of national and international events, and I look forward to the tourism industry’s continued growth in our city.”
Tourism is New Orleans’ largest employer. According to UNO’s research for the full year 2010, New Orleans welcomed 8.3 million visitors, a 10.7 percent increase over 2009, and the first time to reach 8 million visitors since Katrina. 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.
The positive momentum achieved by New Orleans’ tourism industry in 2011 comes as city prepares for an unprecedented schedule of national and international events over the next 18 months, including two NCAA Final Four tournaments, the BCS National Championship and the Super Bowl.
“The results clearly show that tourism does not happen on its own … it takes carefully plotted sales, marketing and public relations strategies, strong customer relationships and hard work by the CVB, NOTMC and every member of the hospitality industry,” said Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The survey also revealed that while Louisiana was the top feeder market (15.1%) for New Orleans, the next most popular states for visitation in order were Texas (7.7%), California (6.8%), Mississippi (6.2%), Florida (5.1%) and New York (4.5%). Almost half (44.9%) of the respondents reported that this was their first visit to New Orleans, an increase over prior year. 90.1% of all visitors said that they were very likely or likely to recommend New Orleans as a destination.
John Williams, Co-Director of the UNO HRC, added, “The hotel industry in New Orleans has been performing exceedingly well as the national economy has struggled.”
“New Orleans clearly has marketing momentum going into a critical period of exceptional, world-class events over the next 18 months,” said Mark Romig, CEO of NOTMC. “The results demonstrate that visitors are reacting positively to our messaging. However, we still have much work to do in order to effectively compete with other destinations for the visitor’s discretionary spending and also continue to perform at a high level as an industry to ensure that our visitors have a quality experience.”
The University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center is a collaborative effort of the University of New Orleans’ Division of Business and Economic Research (DBER) and the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration (HRT). Its function is to provide a variety of research services to hospitality, travel and tourism organizations. The HRC has been producing reports similar to this visitor study since 1997.
The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation is the City of New Orleans’ official leisure travel promotion agency created to foster jobs and economic growth by developing the tourism industry in New Orleans. NOTMC is publicly funded and provides year-round online marketing, advertising, public relations and special event programming in order to support the growth of leisure travel to New Orleans. Websites: neworleansonline.com; gonola.com; neworleansmuseums.com; radiofreeneworleans.com
The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau is a nationally accredited, 1,000-member destination marketing organization and the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. We create $5 billion in new capital each year- more than any other business sector- by attracting millions of visitors, special events and conventions. The CVB and its members influence thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose New Orleans through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services at our New Orleans headquarters and offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and four foreign countries. Consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country, the New Orleans CVB celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010. For more information, please visit neworleanscvb.com.