ERNEST WOODEN, JR. SAYS TOURISM CONTINUES TO BE THE CITY’S BIGGEST ECONOMIC ENGINE, SETTING NEW RECORDS
At LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce’s Power Hour on May 7, Ernest Wooden Jr., President and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (LA Tourism), the city’s official tourism marketing organization, spoke about marketing the Los Angeles region as one of the world’s most-visited and known travel destinations.
During the event, hosted by the Hilton, Wooden said Los Angeles reached a historic milestone in 2018, welcoming 50 million visitors for the first time ever and accomplishing the destination’s ambitious tourism goal two years early. The new record is 1.5 million visitors higher than 2017’s total – a 3.1 percent increase – marking the eighth-consecutive year of tourism growth for Los Angeles. In surpassing 50 million total visitors, Los Angeles set new tourism records for domestic and international visitation, hosting an estimated 42.5 million domestic visitors (3 percent increase) and 7.5 million international visitors (3.6 percent increase). Chinese visitors – many of whom stay in LAX area – continue to drive international growth. Los Angeles is their No. 1 U.S. destination with 1.2 million visitors who spend $1.6 billion – by far the top international spenders. While L.A. Tourism has four full-time offices in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu), it is also investing in emerging international markets in Scandinavia, India and South Korea.
Wooden added that the hotels in LAX corridor continue to outperform entire L.A. County market with over 85% occupancy year-to-date.
L.A. Tourism positions the Gateway offerings as a fun layover or a home base before other travels with L.A.’s highest concentration of affordable hotels, including every major hotel brand.
Success of the area also hinges on the on-going $14 billion transformation to reimagine the LAX airport experience across all terminals, Wooden said. A new Midfield Satellite Concourse (2020) will add 12 new aircraft gates. The airport’s People Mover system broke ground last month and will open in 2023, allowing travelers to ride to all terminals for free and out of airport to Metro Station, reducing congestion. Wooden added that tourism continues to be one of the city’s most powerful economic engines with record-breaking visitor spending of $23.9 billion, resulting in record economic impact of $36.6 billion. “Tourism continues to boost ongoing build of our communities in Los Angeles, positively influencing the prosperity of all Angelenos,” he said. And there’s more to come. The Academy Museum (opening later this year) will be dedicated to the art and science of movie-making and will boast state-of-the-art galleries, exhibition spaces, movie theaters, and special event spaces. Wooden also pointed out that we are just one year away from the opening of Los Angeles Stadium, the new, 70,000 seat, state-of-the-art stadium that will be the epicenter of the sports world and will host the 2022 Super Bowl, 2023 College Football Championship, 2026 World Cup bid, 2028 Olympic and Summer Olympic Games.