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La. sets new tourism record with 27.3M visitors

By: MELINDA DESLATTE
April 28, 2014 Updated: April 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm
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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana drew a record 27.3 million tourists to its cities, festivals, outdoor activities and other events last year, drawing $10.8 billion in visitor spending.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne outlined the 2013 figures Monday at a tourism promotion lunch, saying the state attracted more outside visitors than the previous record set a year earlier. He also said that tourism activity generated an estimated $807 million in tax revenue for Louisiana's coffers.

"Tourism creates jobs, generates revenue for Louisiana, and these numbers bear it out," he said.

The figures are from an annual tourism study conducted by the University of New Orleans' Hospitality Research Center.

Dardenne oversees Louisiana's tourism efforts as head of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. He said the visitor numbers were boosted by New Orleans' hosting of the Super Bowl last year. But he said the state also has seen its tourism rebound since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, additional storms in recent years and the Gulf oil spill in 2010.

"We have truly exhibited the resiliency that everyone likes to talk about when it comes to Louisiana. These numbers represent a true comeback," he said.

Tourism generated a 34-to-1 return on the amount of money the state spent on its tourism efforts that year, according Dardenne.

According to the UNO study, one million more people visited Louisiana in 2013 than in the prior year. The biggest draw was the New Orleans area, bringing in 9.3 million visitors who spent $6.5 billion.

More than 210,000 people are employed in tourism-related industries, making it the fifth-largest employment sector in the state, according to the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

The UNO study showed that visitors who came to the state last year spent nearly $394 on average during their trip. Casino attendance and state park visits lagged behind other tourism stops, according to the study.

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