Tourism officials tapping travel industry’s annual trade show at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center _lowres

A new digital marketing campaign unveiled Tuesday by the New Orleans Business Alliance is aimed at rallying local business leaders to share their stories on social media using the hashtag #WhyNOLA about why they chose to do business in New Orleans.

Visitors to New Orleans spent $7.4 billion dollars last year, a record that was up almost 5 percent from 2015.

All told, the city hosted a record 10.5 million visitors last year, its highest number since 2004 and a nearly 7 percent uptick from 2015, according to a study by the University of New Orleans’ Hospitality Research Center. That came as more than 11.1 million passengers — counting both those who landed and those who departed — went through the New Orleans airport, the highest tally in its seven-decade history.

“The results of last year’s survey demonstrate that we are not just continuing the visitation and visitor spending growth we have delivered over the past seven years, but we have now posted historic highs in both categories," said Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The largest share of New Orleans’ 2016 visitors, about 33 percent, were ages 50 to 64, according to the report, followed by ages 35 to 49, which represented 28 percent.

Since 2010, visitation and spending in New Orleans have spiked by almost 26 percent and 40 percent, respectively, according to the report.

UNO’s annual New Orleans Area Visitor Profile assesses the tourism industry using hotel occupancy figures and a sampling of local residents to estimate how many people likely stayed with friends or relatives. Some data are gathered from surveys of visitors at Louis Armstrong International Airport and other destinations.

UNO's latest research showed that overnight visitors to the New Orleans area who stayed in hotels spent on average roughly $1,033 per person per trip in 2016.

On average, visitors stayed for four nights and spent $231 per person per day according to the report.

When considering only overnight trips, New Orleans’ top feeder markets in 2016 were Texas, 10.4 percent; Louisiana (outside the metro area), 9.2 percent; and California, 7.8 percent.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.