Big news from the Big Easy today: New Orleans’ tourism industry welcomed 9.01 million visitors in 2012, record numbers not seen by the city in nearly 10 years. Total visitor numbers increased by three percent, or 255,027 from the number of visitors in 2011 (8.75 million.) The 9.01 million visitors spent $6 billion, a nine percent or $512 million increase over 2011 and the highest spending in the city’s history, according to a study released today.
The 2012 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile study, completed by the UNO Hospitality Research Center for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC,) has some fascinating insights into what people are doing when they visit New Orleans.
By the Numbers
In 2003 New Orleans welcomed 8.5 million visitors, who spent $4.5 billion. The year 2004 was a record-breaking year, with 10.1 million visitors and visitor spending totaling $4.9 billion. After Katrina, visitor numbers dropped to 3.7 million in 2006, with $2.8 billion in visitor spending. Due to the efforts of the New Orleans CVB and the NOTMC, visitor numbers increased to 7.1 million in 2007 with $4.8 billion in spending. Numbers increased in 2008 and 2009, ultimately reaching 8.3 million visitors and $5.3 billion in spending in 2010.
By the Numbers
Seventy-three percent of the respondents who offered open-ended comments in 2012 provided positive feedback about the city; 49.9 percent of them plan to return or recommend New Orleans to others.
All key indicators increased in 2012, compared to 2011:
· Lodging spending increased by 17 percent
· Restaurant spending increased by nine percent
· Spending in bars and nightclubs jumped by 10.4 percent
· Entertainment/recreation increased by nine percent
· 76.1 percent of visitors surveyed were in New Orleans for vacation/pleasure
· 13.8 percent of visitors surveyed were in New Orleans for association, convention, tradeshow or corporate meetings
· 10.1 percent of visitors surveyed were in town for general business
· 58 percent of business travelers extended their stay for pleasure for an average of 2.1 nights
· Cruise visitors comprised about 1.7 percent of the total number of visitor responses, and they stayed an average of two nights in New Orleans before or after their cruise
The 2012 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile report also found:
· The proportion of visitors with income of $150,000 or more rose to 17.2 percent; 22.3 percent have a household income of over $100,000
· 41.1 percent of New Orleans visitors were in town for the first time; 58.9 percent were repeat visitors
· Overnight visitation from top feeder markets outside of Louisiana were: Texas, California, Florida and New York
· Visitors age 50-64 made up the largest demographic for 2012 visitors (37.7 percent), followed by 35-49 (29.7 percent), 25-34 (16.9 percent), 65 and older (11.0 percent) and 18-24 (4.7 percent)
· Overnight visitor stays in New Orleans remained the same between 2011 and 2012 at an average of 4.2 nights
· The proportion of overnight visitors staying in a hotel has increased over the past three years, reaching 61.3 percent
· Average party size was 2.9 people
· The majority of visitors who stayed in a hotel made reservations through the hotel website (27.5 percent), or a travel website (22 percent). Twelve percent of visitors called their hotel directly, while eight percent used association housing during their stay in New Orleans.
· The majority of New Orleans area visitors surveyed arrived in their personal vehicle (48.9 percent) or by airplane (46.3 percent)
The Insiders' Insights
“Reaching a milestone of nine million visitors in 2012 during a tough national economy reinforces that tourism does not just happen on its own, it takes aggressive, cutting-edge sales and marketing strategies,” said Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans CVB. “The CVB and our partners work together every day to drive New Orleans’ $6 billion tourism industry that employs 75,000 people from every local neighborhood and fuels our state and local economy.”
“The results from 2012 illustrate that all parts of New Orleans, from Magazine Street to Bywater, from Mid-City to Algiers is welcoming visitors to our city and seeing more and more benefit from our marketing efforts," said Mark Romig, President and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. “The hospitality industry is working solidly together, and with a city administration that gives its full support to continue this upward trend of visitation, we will continue to build more jobs and small business opportunities for our community.”