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It’s a tale of two cities…or really…one city with two majorly conflicting reports on tourism statistics.

Two reports conducted by University of New Orleans and the City of New Orleans (technically its Convention and Visitors Bureau along with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp.)  reached two very different tourist counts for New Orleans in 2017.

University of New Orleans estimated that the Crescent City welcomed 10.98 million visitors, who spent $7.51 billion in 2017 (a record for the city). The university produced the 2017 numbers independently, and its tourism tally was based on a mix of outside data and in-person surveys throughout the year to figure out how many people were visiting. 

Meanwhile, the City of New Orleans used a third party data firm, D.K. Shifflet & Associates, to compile its visitor numbers. Its report found a whopping 6.85 million difference in the amount of tourists to the Big Easy.  According to their findings, a total of about 17.74 million visitors came to New Orleans in 2017. They also tabulated those tourists spent $1.19 billion more than the University’s calculation, for a total of $8.7 billion in tourism dollars. 

Complicating matters is the fact that University of New Orleans used to help the city calculate the official number of visitors — until this year.

“We realize that the numbers from [D.K. Shifflet and Associates] differ significantly from [University of New Orleans’s], but if you compare UNO’s and DKSA’s year-over-year increases side by side, the trajectory is basically the same,” Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Stephen Perry said in a statement. “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.”

Regardless of the exact visitor numbers, TPG contributors have found New Orleans to live up to its reputation as an exciting destination for visitors of all kinds. Whether its venturing on Bourbon Street, or enjoying festivities like Mardi Gras or the tricentennial —this city offers a variety of attractions and events.

If you’re planning a vacation to the Big Easy, watch this video for some New Orleans trip-spiration.


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