New Orleans tourism is alive and well...

September 26 2011 | Latest News
...against the national trend...

September 26, 2011

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS - A new study shows New Orleans is having a big year for tourism.

More visitors came and they spent more money during the first six months of this year, helping the city buck some national trends.

Fans of the Houston Texans strolled down Bourbon Street Sunday afternoon, a bit disappointed in the football game, but still enjoying the visit.

"The environment, the hospitality has been great, so, couldn't ask for anything more, being from out of town," said Chris Bowman of Houston, Texas.

"Everyone here is so hospitable and, even after losing the game, you walk down the street and people want to shake your hand and just thank you for coming," said Meredith Bowman of Houston, Texas.

And for a city that relies heavily on tourism, 2011 is shaping up to be a big year.

According to a new UNO study, 4.8 million people visited New Orleans in the first half of the year.

That's a spike of more than seven percent compared to the same time frame of 2010.

"What's even more telling is its $3.1 billion in spending. That's 10 percent over last year, and last year we had a phenomenal year. It was just great," said John Williams of UNO.

John Williams, who heads up the Hospitality Research Center at UNO, said spending is up in areas like lodging, transportation, and even dining, which separates New Orleans from the pack.

"About 85 percent of visitors will go to a casual restaurant, but 41 percent will go to a fine dining establishment, and that's excellent. That's not occurring in the nation and even in the better markets such as New York, where the hotels are doing very well, but the restaurants have been struggling," Williams said.

Tourism officials say the numbers are promising, although they may not continue at that pace.

"What we don't want to do is double the numbers from the first half of the year, because normally there's a dip in the second half," said Mark Romig.

Hopes are high that the good times will stick around – as the city is set to host several major sporting events over the next 18 months, including the NCAA Final Four, the BCS championship, and in 2013, the Super Bowl.