Covering Louisiana

Oct 11, 2012 11:50 AM by AP

Survey: NO attracts more tourists, spending

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A new survey finds New Orleans hosted 4.9 million visitors in the first half of 2012, a 2 percent increase over the same period in 2011, with spending increasing 11 percent to $3.45 billion

The Advocate reports the survey was conducted by the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center.

"The UNO visitor study provides strong evidence of the continued upward trend of the New Orleans tourism industry," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release. "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."

He said the numbers will continue to grow as the city hosts an "unprecedented series of national and international events, including Super Bowl XLVII in 2013."

The city will also host the 2013 NCAA Women's Final Four and the 2014 NBA Men's All-Star Game.

Of the 4.9 million visitors through midyear, 74.1 percent were visiting New Orleans for vacation/pleasure; 14.3 percent attended conventions, associations, corporate meetings and/or trade shows; and 11.7 percent were in New Orleans for general business, the report said.

Of all visitors, 50 percent stayed in a hotel, while 26.6 percent were visiting friends and relatives. The average number of nights stayed by visitors was 4.1 nights.

On the spending front, per-trip expenditures among visitors were up in all categories except for shopping. The largest jump in per-trip expenditures was in bars and nightclubs, with a 27.2 percent increase from the same period in 2011, and in lodging, with an 18.1 percent increase from 2011.

More than half of business visitors to the New Orleans area - 60 percent - extended their stay for pleasure for an average 2.1 days, the report said.

Tourism is one of New Orleans' largest employers. According to UNO's research for the full year 2011, New Orleans welcomed 8.75 million visitors, and visitor spending hit $5.47 billion, a significant increase over 2010 and the highest spending in the city's history.

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