Updated on November 6, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

New Orleans is a Louisiana city on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico. Nicknamed the “Big Easy,” it’s known for its round-the-clock nightlife, vibrant live-music scene, and spicy, singular cuisine reflecting its history as a melting pot of French, African and American cultures. Embodying its festive spirit is Mardi Gras, the late-winter carnival famed for raucous costumed parades and street parties.

The cultural life of New Orleans is a synthesis of contributions by both whites and Blacks. The white American heritage—with its roots in French-speaking Cajun society—is reflected in the business and commercial life of the city, while the immigrant heritage—Irish societies, German Oktoberfests, Italian St. Joseph’s Day altars—adds ethnic color to urban conformity.

No matter the time of year, New Orleans grandly welcomes its visitors to experience Caribbean, Spanish, French and African cultures colliding in a brilliant explosion of flavors, emotions, and sounds. Music is everywhere, people live to eat and every day is a party here in the birthplace of jazz, which is also home to Creole cuisine, centuries-old Spanish oak trees, and clacking streetcars. With a unique combination of city life, swamp tours, festivals, historical significance, and revelry during Mardi Gras, New Orleans has the recipe to captivate everyone.

New Orleans’ economy relies on tourism, the city’s tourism spending in 2019 broke records but was badly hit by the pandemic, which forced many bars, restaurants, and music venues to close or limit their operations.

Statistics and trends of the New Orleans tourism industry

  • The New Orleans region is home to a racially and ethnically diverse population of nearly 1.5 million people. More than half of the residents are white while about one-third are African American, and eight percent are Hispanic or Latino.
  • New Orleans is known worldwide for its spirited nightlife, unique cuisine, and rich cultural heritage, all of which draw more than 19 million people to visit the city each year.
  • New Orleans has been named the #3 Top Destination for City Lovers in the United States for 2022.
  • The New Orleans region overwhelmingly represents the largest share of Louisiana travel and is the most profitable travel region in the State.
  • Tourism is the largest employer in New Orleans, sustaining 62,000 hospitality jobs and saving every New Orleans household $3,587* in taxes.
  • New Orleans’ economy relies on tourism. In 2019, before the pandemic, more than 19 million visitors to the city spent $10.05 billion.
  • This industry has been hammered by the pandemic, which has forced many bars, restaurants, and music venues to close or limit their operations. At one point unemployment in the city was as high as 20%, and it hasn’t recovered, with a 12% jobless rate now.
  • The city hosts more than 135 festivals annually, which equates to roughly one festival every three days.
  • The Port Of New Orleans reported more than 1 million cruise passengers in 2018.
  • The city’s hospitality industry has 1,200 restaurants and 26,000 hotel rooms.
  • The New Orleans region has the longest average length of stay (2.59 Days) compared to all other Louisiana regions.
  • A lot of New Orleans’ must-see sights are located in the French Quarter.
  • A popular keyword to use in search engines, such as Google and Bing, among possible future tourists is “Visit New Orleans”. According to search data from Google trends, the search volume for this keyword has in 2021 and 2022 still not fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Search data for visit new orleans

Search volume trends for the keyword “Visit New Orleans” in Google Trends


  • Visitors to the Greater New Orleans region are more likely to stay in High-End hotels, fly and visit in the winter and summer.
  • Over two-thirds of total visitors to New Orleans (70%) do not have children in their household and have an average household income of $108.5K.
  • Visitors to this region also have the highest average spending per person per day ($181) compared to the other regions.
  • The majority of the tourist daily expenditure is spent on Food & Beverage (27%), Transportation (25%), Lodging (19%), followed by Entertainment & Recreation (15%), Shopping (11%), and Miscellaneous (3%).
  • New Orleans has the youngest average age of travelers (45 years).
  • Visitors coming to New Orleans on average spend 4.2 nights in the city,
  • New Orleans receives most of its visitors during the Summer and Winter (both 28%).
  • Travelers rate New Orleans higher in satisfaction with the destination than the average U.S. destination.
  • New Orleans received the lowest value-for-the-money score (8.1), New Orleans region is where the average expenditures per person per day is the highest.
  • Most tourists spend most of their time in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Therefore, the most convenient place for tourists in most cases can be considered this district of the city – the French Quarter and its surroundings.
  • The top activities that travel parties who visit Louisiana participated in the most are Culinary/Dining Experience. Visit Friends/Relatives (general visit), Shopping, Historic Sites, Gambling (slots, cards, horses, etc.), Nightlife (bar, nightclub etc.) and Touring/Sightseeing.


  • In 2019, Louisiana hosted 52.5 million domestic visitors, spending 17.9 billion dollars
  • Louisiana received higher average satisfaction ratings for overall satisfaction and value-for-the-money ratings than the average U.S. destination.
  • Louisiana received more visitors in 2019 during Winter and Spring than the average U.S. travel destination.
  • The majority of Louisiana travelers stay at paid hotels (Mid-Level and High-End), and travel for the purpose of Visiting Friends/Relatives and Special Events.
  • The majority of Louisiana’s visitors (59%) come for non-vacation leisure purposes such as to Visit with Friends/Relatives (22%) and attend a Special Event (13%). This is followed by Vacation purposes such as a Getaway Weekend (11%) and General Vacation (9%). Travelers coming to Louisiana for business accounts for 15%.
  • The majority of Louisiana’s visitors originate from in-state, followed by Texas, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama.
  • The brand-new Louis Armstrong International Airport currently hosts 16 airlines and serves 55 nonstop destinations in the United States and seven international destinations (seasonally) with approximately 150 daily departures.
  • At the Port of New Orleans (NOLA) 90% of cruise guests travel from out of state, with 73% spending a day or two in New Orleans either before or after their cruise.
  • During 2019, Port NOLA recorded 1.2 million cruise passenger movements, a new annual high, up from 1.18 million in 2018.
  • Port NOLA also saw an increase in cruise vessel calls with a total of 251 in 2019 up from 235 calls the year before.
  • Louisiana is primarily a drive destination, with only 9% of Louisiana travelers arriving by airplane. This percentage of air visitors is driven mostly by the Greater New Orleans region where 17% of the visitors arrive by air. The rest of the state receives less than 3% of visitors by air.
  • Paid Hotels are by far the accommodation of choice for Louisiana visitors.
  • The anti-tourism sentiment in New Orleans is so prevalent, in fact, that NOLA rank in the top five among “tourist-hating” cities in the U.S.
  • Locals blame the tourism industry in general as the main reason behind the lack of affordable housing in the city, and the prevalence of Airbnb rentals in particular.
  • The French Quarter is the oldest part of the city and, as the name suggests, was originally built by the French. The French Quarter hosts many of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans as well as some cool places to shop.
  • The year-round music festivals, daily live music performances–both local and national–and the countless iconic musicians and venues of New Orleans all go into making it one of the most sought-after places to experience music.