POSTED: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 1:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 1:34pm
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WDSU) — New Orleans officials said the city is coming off of the best tourism year ever.
A recent University of New Orleans study showed more than 8 million people visited the city and spent a record $5 billion in 2011
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the total was $180 million more than the year before.
Overnight visitors grew by 337,000 people.
Hotel visitors grew by 75,000 people, and lodging spending went up by $29.6 million.
"We have the largest number of people on business who extended their stay -- that's important. They like what they're seeing and they'll come back again," Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesman Steven Perry said.
City leaders said aggressive marketing was one reason for the increase in tourism.
They said they are expecting an even better year in 2012.
Landrieu said he wants to see the number of tourists rise to 13.7 million by 2018.