New Orleans welcomed 8.3 million visitors in 2010, the first time the destination broke 8 million since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
Those visitors spent $5.3 billion, a $1.1 billion increase over 2009 and the highest spending in the city’s history, according to the 2010 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile survey, conducted by the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center.
The results of the survey, which were released on Thursday, showed that the number of visitors to New Orleans increased 10.7%, from 7.5 million to 8.3 million.
"It is energizing to see such strong results," Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. "Coming out of the strong economic downturn, and on top of the difficult perception challenges created by the BP oil spill, the city hosted multiple attendance record-breaking conventions, festivals, had strong leisure and transient results and ended the year as the number one fastest-growing destination in the country for hotel performance."
According to the survey, 77.7% of visitors were in New Orleans for leisure travel, and those visitors spent an average of $142 per day.
The remaining 22.3% were in New Orleans for a convention, trade show, corporate meeting or business travel.
New Orleans' tourism industry employs 70,000 people and creates $5 billion in revenue for the city each year, more than any other business sector in the city, according to the New Orleans CVB.
Top source markets outside of Louisiana to New Orleans were Texas, California, Florida, Mississippi and New York.
The majority of visitors who stayed in a hotel made reservations through a hotel website (34%), and others used a traditional travel agent (22.6%) or a an online agency (20.5%).
The results were compiled from an online survey that collected data quarterly during 2010. The fourth-quarter survey remained active until Jan. 18, 2011. A total of 5,343 usable responses were collected.