Who Dat Say They Gonna Visit New Orleans?

New study shows increased growth in tourism in New Orleans


The Pelicans are done for the season and Mark Ingram’s suspension has us nervous about the start of Saints football, but we do have something to celebrate – the continued growth of the tourism industry in New Orleans.

A new study conducted by D.K. Shifflet & Associates’ (DKSA) reports that in 2017, New Orleans experienced a 6 percent increase in direct visitor spending contributing $8.7 billion to the economy. The city also welcomed 17.74 million visitors in 2017, a 5.7 percent increase in the number of visitors compared to 2016. Statewide, DKSA is reporting 47.1 million visitors and $17.5 billion in visitor spending in 2017. Those numbers represent an increase of nearly 500,000 visitors and a 4.1 percent increase in visitor spending throughout Louisiana.

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The increased numbers locally and statewide are a positive trend and linked to marketing efforts by the Lieutenant Governor’s office, as well as regional efforts by organizations like New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (NOCVB) and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC), which all use DKSA now in a shift from previous years.

In a move to align its annual numbers with competitor markets and the State of Louisiana, NOCVB and NOTMC engaged DKSA to do the 2017 study, replacing the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center’s visitation and visitor spending research.

“New Orleans has seen steady growth in tourism numbers since 2009, consecutively surpassing our annual numbers in visitation and visitor spending each year,” explained Stephen Perry, president and CEO of NOCVB, in a press release. “We realize that the numbers from DKSA differ significantly from UNO’s, but if you compare UNO’s and DKSA’s year-over-year increases side by side, the trajectory is basically the same. The transition to D.K. Shifflet and Associates ensures New Orleans’ visitor data is comparable to data reported by the Louisiana Office of Tourism and many of our competitor cities which use this methodology to measure visitation and visitor spending.”

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Perry said the switch to DKSA will allow for an apples-to-apples comparison with our peers. Making the change for 2017 will also help us truly measure 2018, which is sure to be a record-breaking year for tourism visitation due to the tricentennial celebrations.

Lodging spending in New Orleans saw the biggest growth with 12.3 percent or $1.77 billion. Other increases include:

  • Food and beverage spending increased by 8.3 percent or $2.05 billion
  • Entertainment and recreation spending increased by 7.16 percent or $1.14 billion
  • Shopping spending increased by 3.8 percent or $885 million
  • Transportation spending increased by 1.7 percent or $2.67 billion


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“The results from 2017 demonstrate the unique position that New Orleans has in the mind of the discerning traveler,” said Mark Romig, president and CEO of NOTMC, in a press release. “Combined with record-setting spending, the visitation results remind us of the important role that the tourism economy plays in helping to build a stronger economy for New Orleans and the region.”

These new benchmarks in visitors and visitor spending will denote the fork in the road. As the tricentennial drives tourism in 2018 and the new airport terminal makes leisure and business travel easier in 2019, I, for one, will enjoy reading the DKSA report annually.



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