New Orleans tourism officials are toasting 2012 in its closing days as a year full of accolades for the city's appeal to visitors. Travel + Leisure magazine declared it the best American city to visit in November. Conde Nast Traveler ranked it in the top 10 in the United States in October. It received a World Tourism Award at the World Travel Market tourism industry exhibition in London in November.
But by the count of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, those were just three of at least 21 national or international travel honors for New Orleans in 2012.
About 8.75 million people visited New Orleans in the last fully accounted-for year, 2011. Tourism industry promoters are aiming for a goal of 13.7 million visitors by the time of the city's tri-centennial in 2018 and so they gladly extol all the flattering attention from travel publications, search engines and online services in 2012.
The Yahoo! Internet search engine listed New Orleans among the most-searched travel destinations. CNN Travel named it one of the most romantic cities, alongside Paris, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and other international gems. Away.com called New Orleans one of the best holiday getaways for people seeking top-notch dining experiences. TripAdvisor.com said it was one of the most affordable cities to visit domestically.
Travel+Leisure piled on awards for specific attributes its readers found in the city in addition to the overall top rating in the United States.
It said New Orleans was best for its music scene, cafes, nightlife, shopping, offbeat people, wild weekend potential, happy hour, sense of pride, people watching, getaway appeal for girlfriends, street performers, singles scene, antiques stores, flea markets and New Year's Eve festivities, although the travel publication's reader survey also placed the city last in the categories of safety, cleanliness and athletic activities.
New Orleans reached the top 10 in several other Travel + Leisure categories. Conde Nast also recognized several individual New Orleans hotels among the best in the South and the best new hotels around the world in 2012.
And 2013 is set for a busy start for the tourism industry when one of the largest national, annual events, the Super Bowl, unfolds with a series of attractions starting in New Orleans in late January and culminating on game day, Feb. 3.