Signs are looking good for the tourism industry in New Orleans, with the city recording a record-setting $6.81 billion in visitor spend in 2014, according to the 2014 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 (CVB) and New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC).
The visitor spend was a 5.3 percent increase over 2013. Also in 2014, the city welcomed 9.52 million visitors, an increase of 2.6 percent over 2013.
After Hurricane Katrina, visitor numbers dropped to 3.7 million in 2006, with $2.9 billion in visitor spending. Due to the efforts of the New Orleans CVB and the NOTMC, visitor numbers have steadily increased, with visitor spending more than doubling the figures reached right after Katrina.
Of the respondents who offered open-ended comments in 2014, 69.9 percent provided positive feedback about the city; 44.1 percent of them plan to return or recommend New Orleans to others; and 43.9 percent visitors indicated they “love New Orleans.” 62.6 percent of respondents indicated this was a return trip. The percentage of first-time visitors to New Orleans decreased to 37.4 percent in 2014.
Visitor spending increased in all categories, resulting in an overall 5.3 percent increase in spending activity for 2014, compared to 2013:
- Lodging spending increased by 5.9 percent
- Entertainment spending increased by 11.2 percent
- Shopping spending increased by 5.7 percent
- Restaurant spending increased by 2.9 percent
- Spending in bars and nightclubs increased by 3.9 percent
- Visitors who stayed overnight in a hotel spent an average of $249 per person per day
- Visitors who came to New Orleans for the day spent an average of $180 per person
57.8 percent of convention and business visitors extended their stay by an average of two nights to enjoy the city, an increase over 2013 (55.4 percent) and 2012 (57.6 percent). Cruise visitors comprised about 1.5 percent of the total number of visitor responses, and nearly all (91 percent) stayed in New Orleans before or after their cruise. The average number of nights in the city was 2.5, compared to an average of two nights in 2011-2013.