Los Angeles experienced the largest number of visitors and spending in the history of the city in 2011. A total of approximately 26.9 million people visited LA in 2011, an increase of 4.2 percent more overnight visitors than in 2010. Tourist spending rose as well with visitors accounting for $15.2 billion in expenditures – an 8 percent increase from the previous year.
“This year’s impressive growth in tourism is great news for our local businesses that rely on tourist spending to make their companies both successful and profitable,” said Mark Liberman, president and CEO of LA INC. The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The increase was experienced in all areas of our city as indicated by increased occupancy at hotels and attendance at restaurants, attractions and cultural institutions. This is significant for the LA economy as one out of ten jobs are related to tourism and the industry employs 364,000 persons.”
“LA is the gateway to the Pacific Rim and we are doing everything we can to strengthen our ties to the region”
International visitors made one of the largest impacts on LA’s tourism with 5.9 million visitors to the City, a 7 percent increase over last year. International travelers also had a visible increase in spending— 12 percent more in 2011—totaling nearly $5.5 billion in revenue.
For the second time in a row, Australia is LA’s No. 1 overseas market. Recognizing the importance of the LA market, Australia now has more seat capacity for arriving flights than any overseas country.
LA is the leading U.S. gateway to Asia. Los Angeles benefitted from growth from Asia, specifically travelers from China, which increased nearly 25 percent. Three additional flights from China were added in 2011. In April, American Airlines began service from Shanghai to LAX; United Airlines started service on the same route in May; and in September, Air China added a second flight from LAX to Beijing. Japan also reported a strong rebound in 2011 with a 5.5 percent increase in visitors, despite the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
"LA is the gateway to the Pacific Rim and we are doing everything we can to strengthen our ties to the region,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "In 2006, Los Angeles became the first American city to open a tourism office in Beijing. In the five years after the office opened, the number of visitors from China to Los Angeles increased by 150 percent from 110,000 in 2006 to 273,000 in 2010. We are committed to increasing tourism to LA because it means more jobs for Angelenos."
Visitors from Canada and Mexico increased by 13 percent and 4 percent respectively. In 2011, 675,000 Canadians visited LA, a record high in volume for Canadian visitors to LA. Since 2001, when 383,000 Canadians visited LA, Canadian visitation has increased by over 76 percent.
In addition to an increase in international visitors, domestic travelers increased by over 2 percent. These visitors spent more than $9.7 billion – a five percent increase over last year.
With more than 320 days of sunshine each year, LA has a natural advantage. In 2011, visitors discovered new and compelling reasons to visit, including Cirque de Soleil®’s new show, IRIS: A Journey Through the World of Cinema™, in its new permanent home at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and Natural History Museum’s Dinosaur Hall, which now rivals the world’s largest dinosaur halls. 2012 promises to be a blockbuster year for Los Angeles with major new attractions including Universal Studios Hollywood launch of “Transformers The Ride–3D” this May and the arrival NASA space shuttle Endeavor, which will retire at the California Science Center in 2012.
“As a leading worldwide tourist destination, Universal Studios Hollywood enjoyed significant growth in international visitation in 2011,” said Larry Kurzweil, President, Universal Studios Hollywood. “As we set the stage to launch ‘Transformers: The Ride–3D,’ the Park’s most technologically-advanced thrill ride ever built, we’re prepared to see our tourism numbers increase dramatically.”
Looking ahead, Los Angeles is poised for the next era. With the $1.5 billion project to provide greater capacity to the New Tom Bradley International Terminal well underway, LA is ready to further expand its international reach and continue its reign as the number one U.S. gateway for passengers from Asia.
LAX has close to 1,000 weekly nonstop flights to 58 international destinations on nearly 50 carriers and accounts for $10.7 billion annually in economic benefits to the Southern California region, according to airport officials.
2012 promises to be an exciting year for the travel business as Los Angeles will be the host city to International Pow Wow produced by the U.S. Travel Association in April. More than 5,000 exhibitors; tour operators and travel media from 70 countries will attend Pow Wow in Los Angeles. The event is expected to generate an estimated $350 million in the three years following Pow Wow due to the expected increase of international travel business.
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