A comparative analysis of the first two quarters of the current year and that of the last year reveals that New Orleans had a 2% increase of visitors in the current year. In absolute figures that’s 4.9 million visitors. These visitors also spent an amount of $3.45 billion which is an increase of 11% from the last year. The 2012 University of New Orleans (UNO) Hospitality Research Center’s 2012 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile is the source of this information. This research had been done at the behest of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC).
Needless to say that tourism is a major employment maker for New Orleans. In 2011 the city experienced a total of 8.75 million visitors and those visitors spent $5.47 billion. That was by far the highest in the city’s history. Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans seemed to be underlining this point when he mentioned that the UNO study is a strong evidence that the city is a hotspot of cultural and sporting events. He is positive that the tourism figures are only going to rise further. It is also an indication that the cultural aspect of New Orleans plays a significant role in the augment of the tourism business. More such events are planned and the Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 is one of the major events to take place in the city.
A bit more delving into the statistics reveals an interesting pattern. 74.1 % of the travelers were visiting New Orleans for vacation or pleasure; 14.3% were visiting the city for business purposes including conventions, meetings and or associations; and a further 11.7% were in for general business. Nearly 50% of these visitors preferred to stay in hotels, while 26.6% were visiting friends or relatives and stayed with them. Further investigations revealed that on an average visitors stayed for 4.1 nights. Spending was up on all categories by the visitors, except for shopping. On an average nearly 60% of the visitors extended their stay in the city for pleasure for an additional 2.1 days.
John Williams, Co-Director of the UNO HRC, seems to have found an interesting pattern among the visitors to the city. More than half (55.8%) of the visitors seemed to be taking an active interest in indulging in a bit of socio-cultural tour of the city on their second visit, rather than on their first. The major centers of attraction appears to be the Aquarium, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the World War II Museum, Audubon Zoo, Insectarium and of course the parades. They also indulge in a bit of fine and casual dining experience that the city has to offer.
As the city gears up for major sporting events such as the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four, the Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013 and the 2014 NBA Men’s Allstar Game, the momentum of the tourism industry seems to be picking up. Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans CVB points out that for the tourism industry, momentum matters in a big way. At the current moment New Orleans is not only gaining from the visitor influx but also making the right noises in major awards and accolades. As a matter of fact it has also been voted one of the Top cities in the US and Canada by the Travel + Leisure’s 2012 World’s Best Awards.
According to Mark Romig, president and CEO of NOTMC, all planning and execution seems to be heading the right direction as the city gears up for the busy 2013 season.