Key Tourism Numbers Trending Up
Airline and cruise passengers both increase in 2017
Two key indicators that tourism in New Orleans is continuing to rise have been released – the number of airline passengers and cruise passengers serviced – both breaking records.
The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport reported 12,009,512 total passengers served in 2017, an all-time record. Compared to the two previous years, each setting their own records, 2017 marked the seventh consecutive year of passenger growth for the airport and an increase in nearly one million passengers from 2016. Overall, the 2017 number represents a 35 percent increase in passengers since 2010.
“I’m so proud to see yet another record-breaking year for the Airport,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a press release. “This is a clear sign that New Orleans isn’t just back on its feet, it is as vibrant as ever. As a top travel destination in 2018, we are in a position to see even more tourism growth during our tricentennial year. As construction progresses on the new North Terminal, which will be complete in February 2019, we will continue to open the doors to new opportunities for the people, businesses and visitors in our city.”
The North Terminal project, a $993.7 million capital program which has been under construction since January 2016, will add 35 airline gates, a consolidated passenger checkpoint and an in-line baggage system that will allow passengers to leave their checked bags at ticket counters. The project also includes the construction of a 2,190-space parking garage and surface parking, as well as a planned concourse passenger experience that incorporates New Orleans cuisine and culture into the terminal.
Multiple airlines increased service to Louis Armstrong in 2017, including British Airways, Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines. With these additional flights, both average daily carrier seats and average daily departures increased, by 10.5 percent and 2.9 percent respectively.
New flights for 2018 ahead of the completion of the North Terminal project show continued growth is likely for the airport. This spring alone brings new services from Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
On the waterfront, the Port of New Orleans reported 1,150,172 cruise passenger movements in 2017, making it the fourth consecutive record-breaking year of more than one million annual passenger movements for the port.
“These year-end results validate the continued appeal of cruising from the Crescent City and reflect our commitment to excellence,” said Brandy Christian, Port of New Orleans president and CEO, in a press release. “We expect additional growth in 2018 and will continue to provide high-level service that complements New Orleans’ natural hospitality and vibrant energy. We hold ourselves to high standards and work to exceed expectations.”
This year will see the return of Royal Caribbean International to New Orleans in December, joining Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line, which already homeport vessels at the port’s Erato Street and Julia Street Cruise Terminals.
Norwegian Cruise Line is also increasing its capacity in New Orleans by replacing the Norwegian Pearl with the Norwegian Breakaway, a nearly 4,000-passenger vessel that will be the largest cruise ship in both length and passenger occupancy to ever sail from the port.
River cruising will see an increase as well in September 2018, when American Cruise Line will add a third vessel to its homeported river boats to New Orleans. The American Song is a 190-passenger, modern riverboat that will join the two paddlewheelers already homeported by American Cruise Line in New Orleans. Additionally, The American Queen Steamboat Company homeports two paddlewheelers, giving river cruisers the choice of five vessels with multiple itinerary options.
Whether by air or by water, travelers are taking advantage of the amenities and culture that New Orleans provides. With 2018 being the tricentennial year, we can certainly anticipate these numbers will continue to grow.