New Orleans welcomed 4.9 million visitors in the first half of 2012, up 2% over the same period in 2011.

The city hosted 8.75 million visitors in 2011.

Visitor spending jumped 11% to $3.35 billion, according to a study by the University of New Orleans Hospitality Research Center, commissioned by the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Tourism Marketing Corp.

The largest jump in per-trip visitor expenditures was in bars and nightclubs, up 27.2% and in lodging, up 18.1%.

"The visitor study provides strong evidence of the continued upward trend of our tourism industry," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

"We expect these numbers to grow as we play host to a series of national and international events, including Super Bowl XLVII next February, the NCAA Women's Final Four in April and the 2014 NBA All-Star Game."

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.

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