The 2016 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 (NOCVB) and New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) shows consecutive increases in both visitation and visitor spending since 2009.
“The results of last year’s survey demonstrate that we are not just continuing the visitation and visitor spending growth we have delivered over the past seven years, but we have now posted historic highs in both categories. These achievements are the result of a strategy that attracts a combination of carefully targeted convention business and leisure travelers through tactics which leverage paid media, earned public relations exposure and special events to market New Orleans to the world. As the state continues to grapple with budget deficits, the New Orleans tourism industry grows ever stronger, adding to our economy much needed jobs and tax revenues,” said Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The New Orleans tourism industry experienced yet another breakthrough year in 2016, this time making history for the number of visitors to our city and visitor spending,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “This exciting achievement is a testament to our city’s unique ability to host tourists and major events like no other. As we approach our tricentennial, I look forward to 2017 being an even bigger year for the tourism industry in New Orleans.”
“Our marketing strategy, aimed at attracting the leisure travelers, continues to provide dividends to our economy,” said Mark Romig, President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. “Going into 2017, we continue to work side by side with our industry partners, especially the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, the New Orleans CVB and the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association, to reach as many potential visitors as possible with our creative messaging.”
“Our analysis of the research results shows that New Orleans over the past several years has dramatically increased the quality of the foundational pillars necessary for a top tourism destination. Potential visitors and repeat visitors have become increasingly aware of the unique and elevated visitor experience that is a result of New Orleans’ exquisite restaurants, lavish hotels, sporting events, convention center, varied and numerous festivals, museums, and other attractions,” said Dr. John Williams, Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of New Orleans. “This combination of attributes provides an extremely strong competitive edge as New Orleans sets new benchmarks for tourism visitation and spending.”
An example of the NOCVB’s strategy to attract quality visitors and to continue to grow as an international destination in 2016 include the announcements of two direct flights from Europe to New Orleans beginning in 2017. Condor Airlines will begin a seasonal direct flight from Frankfurt, Germany to New Orleans and British Airways will begin a direct flight from London to New Orleans in 2017. Each of these flights will connect New Orleans to more than 120 destinations in Europe and beyond.
In 2004, New Orleans welcomed 10.1 million visitors, who spent $4.9 billion while in the city. In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, visitation dropped to 3.7 million, with $2.9 billion in visitor spending. Due to the efforts of the NOCVB and NOTMC, visitor numbers and spending have steadily increased since Katrina, and the total number of visitors in 2016 surpassed the record visitation numbers set in 2004. Since 2010, visitation and spending in New Orleans have increased by nearly 26 percent and 40 percent respectively. In addition to the record-breaking increase in visitation, visitor spending in 2016 was $7.41 billion, a 51 percent increase since 2004.
The 2016 UNO research showed that overnight visitors to the New Orleans area who stayed in hotels spent an average of $1,033 per person, per trip in 2016. Visitors stayed for an average of 4.0 nights and spent an average of $231 per person, per day.
The cumulative 5.1 percent increase in spending activity from 2015 was felt in all categories:
• Lodging spending increased by 2.2 percent
• Entertainment spending increased by 0.2 percent
• Restaurant spending increased by 12.0 percent
• Spending in bars and nightclubs increased by 12.3 percent
• Visitors who stayed overnight in a hotel spent an average of $231 per day
• Visitors who came to New Orleans for the day spent an average of $192 per person
Most visitors (28.5 percent) traveled to New Orleans during the second quarter of 2016, which can be related to Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, and conventions. The primary purpose of their visit remained similar to what it has been over the last six years:
• Visitors surveyed that traveled to New Orleans for vacation/pleasure: 76.7 percent
• Visitors surveyed that traveled to New Orleans for association, convention, tradeshow or corporate meetings: 13.3 percent
• Visitors surveyed that traveled to New Orleans for general business: 10.0 percent
• Visitors surveyed that traveled to New Orleans for convention and business and extended their stay by an average of 2 nights to enjoy the city: 55.4 percent
• Cruise visitors comprised about 1.7 percent of the total number of visitor responses, and nearly all (72.7 percent) stayed in New Orleans before or after their cruise. The average number of nights in the city was 1.7
The research also found the following:
• Visitors to New Orleans came more frequently from Louisiana, outside of the New Orleans Metro Area (15.6 percent) and Texas (9.3 percent). The next top feeder markets were Mississippi (7.0 percent), California (6.7 percent), Florida (6.5 percent), and New York (4.5 percent).
• While considering overnight visitation only, the top feeder markets in 2016 were Texas (10.4 percent), Louisiana, outside the New Orleans Metro Area (9.2 percent), California (7.8 percent), Florida (6.8 percent), New York (5.1 percent) and Mississippi (4.7 percent).
• The proportion of visitors with income of $200,000 and over reached the highest figure since 2012 (11.2 percent); 22.5 percent had a household income of $100,000 - $149,999.
• The percentage of single visitors to New Orleans, not widowed or divorced, increased from 17.2 percent in 2015 to 17.8 percent in 2016.
• Respondents that identified themselves as LGBT, an increase from 4.1 percent in 2015: 4.7 percent.
• There was a slight increase in respondents who reported having children under the age of 18 living in their household: 23.8 percent.
• Visitors age 50-64 made up the largest demographic for 2016 (33.0 percent), followed by 35-49 years old (28.0 percent). During 2016, the percentage of respondents in the 25-34-years-old group represented an increase from 2015 (17.8 percent), while the 65-years or older group increased from 2015 (15.6 percent).
• Average number of people per travel party remained comparable to previous years in 2016 at 3.0.
• Most visitors surveyed arrived in their personal vehicle increased in 2016 (48.3 percent) while the number of visitors arriving by airplane decreased slightly in 2016 (44.7 percent).
This is the final year for using the UNO Hospitality Research Center's survey as the NOCVB and NOTMC transition to a visitor count process administered by DK Shifflet & Associates (DKS) for 2017’s research. There are a few reasons for this change - First, the Louisiana Office of Tourism office has already moved to DKS for its tourism research. As the state reports statewide visitation data, we should be in sync with their data and process. Secondly, many of the states and cities with whom we compete for visitors also use DKS. Using the same data will provide a clear comparison of our visitation and visitor spending results versus our competitors’. We have informally monitored DKS results for New Orleans for the last few years. Their methodology will provide us a comprehensive count for our visitors and visitor spending which will include the all-important “day-trippers” who come into the city for an event, attraction or meals but do not remain overnight. We plan to continue working with UNO on other survey projects including employment and salary surveys for the industry.
Other tourism organizations who use DKS for their tourism research:
Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVBs)/Destination Management Organizations (DMOs)
Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board
NYC & Company Foundation
UNO - The University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center
NOTMC - New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation
NOCVB - The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau