It’s been a busy few days for local tourism officials: working to sell the city’s charm during hundreds of scheduled meetings with international and domestic travel buyers, many of whom haven’t been to the city in more than a decade.

Since Saturday, the U.S. Travel Association’s annual trade show, IPW, has been underway at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The event — which the city last hosted in 2002 — was expected to attract more than 6,000 attendees from 73 countries.

“A whole generation of these buyers haven’t seen New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina,” said Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This is getting that whole new, young generation back in here.”

Local hospitality officials had more than 450 appointments booked throughout the five days, he said, each involving a 10- to 20-minute sales pitch on the city’s behalf. “It’d take you two years to set up that many meetings,” he said.

More than 1,000 exhibitor booths were set up Monday, rented by cities and states as well as large hotel chains, rental car agencies, airlines and travel destinations. Many of the booths made their own pitch to passers-by with photos and eye-catching attractions that provided a glimpse of their local offerings.

At his booth clustered around other Louisiana attractions, Alec Windle, a commercial manager for the New Orleans-based Gray Line Tours, said many of the travel buyers seemed interested in finding vacation ideas beyond the French Quarter.

“People are excited to see a little more of the city than what they’ve heard,” said Windle, whose company operates the Steamboat Natchez.

Last year, visitors to New Orleans spent more than $7 billion, beating the previous year’s record. International travelers are an especially valuable draw because they tend to stay in the city longer — typically as long as 18 days — and spend more money during their visit than U.S. tourists.

Already, New Orleans attracts about 675,000 international travelers annually.

International tour operators and wholesalers at the trade show are typically interested in buying in bulk and repackaging the vacations to sell to tourists, who tend to rely more on travel agencies for booking trips. By hosting the show, tourism officials hope to draw more international travelers, enough to add another $500 million in annual spending.

“It’s a short buying cycle,” Perry said. “It’s not like a convention we’re booking in 2024 or 2026. This is a buying cycle that’s now, so it’s an incredible opportunity.”

Hosting the show has another advantage: As representatives from other cities work to wine and dine international buyers, they’ll be doing it in some of the city’s best restaurants, giving them a firsthand look at what New Orleans has to offer.

“I think New Orleans is going to get disproportionately more business because it’s a destination people have all heard about but they haven’t seen it,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

Most buyers are eyeing trips in 2018 through 2020, Dow said. “They want to get ahead of the curve,” he said. “They want to find out what’s hot and what’s different.”

About $4.5 million in incentives were offered to host the convention, including $1.5 million from the state’s tourism office and $2.5 million from the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.