New Orleans sets record with nearly 11 million visitors in 2017

May 1 2018 | Latest News

Updated 2:34 PM; Posted 2:08 PM

By Chelsea Brasted, | The Times-Picayune

Follow the link here to see graphs and breakdowns of New Orleans' 2017 tourism record.

New Orleans broke its own record again in 2017, hosting 10.989 million visitors who spent $7.51 billion, according to the University of New Orleans' Hospitality Research Center. Those numbers beat out the records set in 2016 of 10.45 million visitors, who spent $7.05 billion, according to the HRC.

UNO, which in the past has supplied a study compiling similar data to the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corp., produced the 2017 numbers independently.

In an email, the tourism group's CEO, Mark Romig, said his organization and the CVB are working with a different contractor -- DK Shifflet & Co. -- to produce 2017 statistics. The CVB directed a request for comment on the UNO numbers to Romig, who declined.

UNO's data, however, provides a bit of insight into who visits New Orleans, how they get here and why they visit.

More than 80 percent of New Orleans visitors spent the night in 2017, with an average stay of 4.36 days. And they're staying for fun, the HRC reports: More than 80 percent are leisure travelers.

Even business visitors have a hard time denying the city's allure, with nearly 40 percent in 2017 opting to extend their stays an average of two days for leisure. 
Though overall these numbers indicate continued growth for New Orleans' thriving tourism industry, they do not portend success for city's goal of 13 million visitors for its tricentennial. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has mentioned that number when visitor numbers were provided in previous years.

Still, several major projects around New Orleans indicate confidence travel to the city will continue to grow. The National World War II Museum broke ground at the end of 2016 on an expansion, which includes a hotel and conference center. Construction of the Four Seasons, which will take over the former World Trade Center building at the bottom of Canal Street, was scheduled to begin May 1.

Though delayed, the new terminal at Louis Armstrong International Airport is due to open in 2019, and British Airways launched non-stop flights between New Orleans and London in 2017.

John A. Williams, dean of UNO's College of Business Administration who directs the research center, who provided the data to | The Times-Picayune, declined to comment on the study's methodology, citing market competition.

See a full look at UNO's data in the infographic below, or click to open it in a new window