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Beyond Recovery: New Orleans Boasts as a Top Destination for Tourists

In 2013, New Orleans will host the NFL Super Bowl, which will be played for the tenth time in the city inside the newly-branded Mercedes Benz Superdome.  Though the game will attract thousands of spectators, it will be a chance for the city to showcase itself to over 100 million television viewers, as it has historically been the most watched television show in U.S. history. The last time New Orleans was broadcast nationally to so many televisions was in the wake of the hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Super Bowl will be an opportunity to show the world a city that is beyond recovery; New Orleans is a thriving and exciting city.

Final Four crowds at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, March 2012. An estimated 71,000 attended the National Championship Game alone.
Source: Yahoo Sports

Though the city has recovered in many industry sectors, much of this activity can be attributed to the bustling tourism industry. Based on data from the New Orleans Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (NOCVB), 8.75 million visitors came to New Orleans and spent $5.47 billion. Based on this data, total visitation has been recovering at an average annual rate of 19%, and visitor spending has grown at an average annual rate of 14.3% since 2006.  Tourism has been a major force in the city’s recovery as it supports over 70,000 industry-related jobs and pays more than $250 million in annual taxes, according to the NOCVB.  The graph below expresses the visitation and spending in New Orleans from 2003-2011, and from this it is evident that the city struggled as a result of the hurricanes and the economic recession, where overall traveling within the U.S. declined briefly.  In 2010 and 2011, strong increases in visitation and spending support the NOCVB’s goal to reach 13 million visitors by 2018.

Source: New Orleans Convention and Visitor's Bureau; TMG Consulting

People around the world recognize New Orleans for its Mardi Gras celebrations which attract over one million people annually.  For many people, Mardi Gras is just one major festival amongst many. Though I am not a New Orleans native, it didn’t take me long to realize that this is a city that celebrates everything. Throughout the year there are other top events that attract hundreds of thousands of people, including the French Quarter Festival, the Jazz & Heritage Festival and ESSENCE Music Festival. Though leisure events are part of what makes the city so vibrant, unique and exciting; visitors also come to New Orleans for conventions and national sporting events like the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the NCAA Final Four.

Visitors to New Orleans can expect to see many changes to the city as compared to just a few years ago. When arriving at the Airport, travelers should expect to see terminal modernization improvements, including an expanded Concourse D and a new Consolidated Rental Car Facility (opening in early 2013). When guests arrive downtown they will see that the Superdome area has been transformed to a luxury environment, complete with the Mercedes-Benz brand, the opening of Champions Square and the 31- story Hyatt Regency. After a $243 million renovation the Hyatt has rejoined the city’s hotel inventory of over 35,000 available rooms.  Fans of the city’s streetcars will be thrilled to see that construction has begun on the Loyola Avenue Line along 1.5 miles connecting the Union Passenger Terminal and the Superdome to Canal Street.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans
Source: Nilsa Duran, TMG Consulting

Hyatt Regency, New Orleans
Source: Nilsa Duran, TMG Consulting

It is evident that a focus on tourism and investment in related infrastructure has contributed greatly to a rebirth of New Orleans. Amongst many of these improvements, visitors will be most impressed with the overall spirit of the city and the unrivaled hospitality offered to guests. Anybody who has visited the city knows that they are guaranteed an experience unlike any other!

Contributed by:

Nilsa M. Duran

Analyst, Planning and Built Environment

nilsaduran@tmg-consulting.net  or  (504) 569-9239 x 32

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Disclaimer
The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

3 comments on “Beyond Recovery: New Orleans Boasts as a Top Destination for Tourists
  1. Pingback: New Orleans Needs to Look Beyond Tourism « TMG Insights – The TMG Consulting Blog

  2. This is a great article that focuses on how over five years after the disaster the city continues to rapidly improve its offered facilities and accommodation. When a city depends on the tourism industry, as much as New Orleans does, it is important to make key infrastructural investments to keep visitors coming back. It appears that New Orleans is doing very well at this. It also appears that there has been some brilliant planning at the airport to accommodate the plethora of visitors that will be on the way with the Superbowl and have come for events such as the national championship and final four. I think the car rental center will be a large improvement.

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