N.O. Tourism Spending Breaks Records in 2019

NEW ORLEANS –  A new report from D.K. Shifflet & Associates says that, in 2019, New Orleans welcomed 19.75 million visitors, which is a 6.7 percent increase in visitors compared to the previous year. Visitors to New Orleans in 2019 spent $10.05 billion, a 10.3 percent increase over 2018.

Then, earlier this year, the city effectively shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures aimed to decrease the spread of the virus.

New Orleans & Company (the former Convention and Visitors Bureau) estimates that more than $200 million of “visitor spend” in the city is currently being lost per week because of the virus. The situation will become more dire in the coming months as federal programs to assist businesses and workers expire and hotels and restaurants have difficulty “ramping up” under new guidelines in the new normal. The ripple effect of the tourism crash will likely continue to be devastating to ancillary businesses and local governments as well.

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The 2019 visitation study shows consecutive increases in both visitation and visitor spending for the past thirteen years. This is also true for all of Louisiana, which reported 53.2 million visitors and $18.9 billion in visitor spending for 2019. Compared to 2018, those numbers reflect an increase of 3.8 percent in number of visitors and a 2.1 percent increase in visitor spending statewide. 

“This announcement of positive news ironically comes as a reminder of how critical tourism is to the hundreds of small businesses and tens of thousands of workers who comprise the heartbeat of New Orleans’ largest industry,” said New Orleans & Company President Stephen Perry in a statement. “New Orleans’ world famous restaurant community is in dire peril as are our cultural attractions, music venues and the countless musicians and culture bearers who make us so unique. We need to reopen commerce and regenerate demand but do so with a high degree of safety meeting national and state standards.”   

More details from the D.K. Shifflet report:

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  • Lodging spending increased by 6 percent (reaching $2.23 billion)  
  • Entertainment and recreation increased by 15.09 percent (reaching $1.31 billion) 
  • Food and beverage spending increased by 14.67 percent (reaching $2.4 billion) 
  • Shopping spending increased by 9.41 percent (reaching $953 million) 
  • Transportation spending also increased by 7.2 percent (reaching $2.87 billion)   

*Number reflects transportation bringing travelers in and out of destination  

“This kind of performance does not happen accidentally,” said Mark Romig, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of New Orleans & Company. “This success is a testament to the hard work of our internal team of professional marketers and salespeople, as well as our members and our workforce. These numbers demonstrate what sound strategy, tireless effort and pride in work can do for an industry and a city’s economy.”

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