New Orleans Achieves 9.52M Visitors, Record-Breaking Visitor Spend In 2014

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans’ tourism industry welcomed 9.52 million visitors in 2014, an increase of 2.6 percent, or about 240,000 people, from 2013 (9.28 million). The 9.52 million visitors spent $6.81 billion, a 5.3 percent increase over 2013 and the highest spending in the city’s history, according to a study released Monday.

         The 2014 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 (CVB) and New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) represents a milestone.

         After Hurricane Katrina, visitor numbers dropped to 3.7 million in 2006, with $2.9 billion in visitor spending. Due to the efforts of the New Orleans CVB and the NOTMC, visitor numbers have steadily increased, with visitor spending more than doubling the figures reached right after Katrina.

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         Of the respondents who offered open-ended comments in 2014, 69.9 percent provided positive feedback about the city; 44.1 percent of them plan to return or recommend New Orleans to others, and 43.9 percent visitors indicated they “love New Orleans.” The survey showed New Orleans continues to have great success in attracting repeat visitation, with 62.6 percent of respondents indicating this was a return trip. The percentage of first-time visitors to New Orleans decreased to 37.4 percent in 2014.

         Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “Year after year, New Orleans proves to be one of the best places in the world to visit. For the ninth consecutive year, New Orleans has seen a record-breaking increase in the number of visitors and their collective spending. Thousands of business owners, artists, producers, innovators and restaurateurs take pride in offering our visitors an authentic experience even adding new options every year. New Orleans is on a roll and we're thrilled that visitors— leisure and business alike— across the globe are taking notice. This year, we look forward to welcoming visitors and friends for the Jazz Festival, Essence Festival, French Quarter Festival and more.” 

         Visitor spending increased in all categories, resulting in an overall 5.3 percent increase in spending activity for 2014, compared to 2013:

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• Lodging spending increased by 5.9 percent

• Entertainment spending increased by 11.2 percent

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• Shopping spending increased by 5.7 percent

• Restaurant spending increased by 2.9 percent

• Spending in bars and nightclubs increased by 3.9 percent

• Visitors who stayed overnight in a hotel spent an average of $249 per person per day

• Visitors who came to New Orleans for the day spent an average of $180 per person


         The majority of visitors (31 percent) traveled to New Orleans during the second quarter of 2014, which can be related to Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and a robust convention calendar that quarter. The primary purpose of their visit remained similar to what it has been over the last five years:


• 77.2 percent of visitors surveyed were in New Orleans for vacation/ pleasure

• 12.4 percent of visitors surveyed were in New Orleans for association, convention, tradeshow or corporate meetings

• 10.4 percent of visitors surveyed were in town for general business

• 57.8 percent of convention and business visitors extended their stay by an average of two nights to enjoy the city; an increase over 2013 (55.4 percent) and 2012 (57.6 percent)

• Cruise visitors comprised about 1.5 percent of the total number of visitor responses, and nearly all (91 percent) stayed in New Orleans before or after their cruise. The average number of nights in the city was 2.5, compared to an average of two nights in 2011-2013


         The 2014 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile report also found:


• Visitation from Louisiana, outside of the New Orleans Metro Area, was the top feeder market in 2014 at 20.1 percent, a substantial increase compared to 2013 (16.6 percent); the next most popular states of origin were: Texas (11.5 percent), Florida (6 percent), Mississippi (5.8 percent) and California (5.6 percent)

• When considering overnight visitation only, the top feeder markets in 2014 were Texas (13.2 percent), Louisiana outside of New Orleans (9.5 percent), California (6.8 percent), Florida (6.7 percent) and New York (4.3 percent)

• The proportion of visitors with income of $150,000 or more remained the same at 17.1 percent; 22.7 percent of visitors had a household income of $100,000 – $149,000, which is a 2.1 percentage points increase in this bracket compared to 2013

• The percentage of single visitors to New Orleans, not widowed or divorced, increased slightly to 18.3 percent

• During part of 2014, 4.2 percent of respondents identified themselves as LGBT (This question was added in late 2014)

• Of the respondents, 18.5 percent had children under the age of 18 accompanying them to New Orleans, the highest figure recorded since 2010; of those who brought children, about half (43.8 percent) only brought one child

• Visitors age 50-64 made up the largest demographic for 2014 (36 percent), followed by 35-49 (28.1 percent) and 25-34 (16.7 percent); respondent in the 65 and older group was 14.1 percent, the largest it has been in the last six years

• The length of stay averaged 4.1 nights per visitor; this number has remained relatively unchanged for the last five years

• The proportion of overnight visitors staying overnight in a hotel increased slightly to 61 percent, followed by visitors who stayed with friends or relatives (29.2 percent) and other accommodations (9.8 percent)

Average party size was three people

• The majority of visitors surveyed arrived in their personal vehicle (49.3 percent), while 45.1 percent arrived by airplane


         “The 2014 visitor numbers are a testament to our efforts that as a destination we are attracting the right type of visitor,” Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans CVB,” said. “Visitor spend is the highest it’s ever been, driving economic growth and enriching the lives of every New Orleanian, especially the more than 80,000 New Orleanians who work in the tourism industry.”

         “A major theme to our marketing campaigns has been to encourage visitors to stay longer and stay mid-week,” Mark Romig, President and CEO of NOTMC, said. “There is more live music and entertainment on a Tuesday in New Orleans than a Saturday night in most destinations. The 2014 report shows that visitors, in particular business and convention travelers, are extending their trip longer than before to experience the destination and prove that New Orleans is a great city to work and play.”

         “The tremendous linear increase in tourism spending in New Orleans over the past 6 years has created exponential growth of fine restaurants, elegant hotel rooms, festivals, events, and attractions,” John Williams, PhD, Dean of College of Business Administration at UNO, said. “New Orleans, as a result of this tourism-related transformational change, is now recognized as one of the most culturally desirable cities in the nation to visit and call your home. This transformation will prove to be a key element of a heightened quality of life for current residents of New Orleans as well as in attracting future residents as New Orleans seeks expansion in other industries such as technology and health care.”

         The University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center is a collaborative effort of the University of New Orleans’ Division of Business and Economic Research (DBER) and the Lester E. Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration (HRT). Its function is to provide a variety of research services to hospitality, travel and tourism organizations. The HRC has been producing reports similar to this visitor study since 1997.

         The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation is the City of New Orleans’ official leisure travel promotion agency created to foster jobs and economic growth by developing the tourism industry in New Orleans. NOTMC is publicly funded and provides year-round online marketing, advertising, public relations and special event programming in order to support the growth of leisure travel to New Orleans.


         The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau is a nationally accredited, 1,100-member destination marketing organization and the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. The CVB and its members influence thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose New Orleans through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services at our New Orleans headquarters and offices in Chicago, Louisville, KY, Washington, D.C. and six foreign countries. Consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country, the New Orleans CVB celebrates its 55th anniversary in 2015.


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