WORDS FROM WOODEN - SEPTEMBER 2013

Nothing beats being able to share good news, so I am fortunate to have plenty of good news for tourism in LA to share with you in this month’s newsletter.

Aug. 14 marked LATCB’s inaugural LA Tourism Market Outlook Forum, which drew 350 hotel and tourism business leaders attending the sold-out tourism industry conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I was proud to host this great event and was very pleased to see so many of you, our members, there to hear about tourism industry data, marketing initiatives, analysis and forecasts, and be part of our path to reach 50 million visitors by 2020. I hope to see even more of you at our next Market Outlook Forum in 2014.

We were joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and 4th District Councilman Tom LaBonge for the tourism industry conference, which included presentations from top tourism industry leaders and experts including Roger Dow, President and CEO, U.S. Travel Association; Brand USA; Visit California; Google Travel and many others. 

Mayor Garcetti underscored the central role that tourism plays in LA’s economy, community and culture and reiterated his ongoing commitment to expanding the tourism industry in LA.

I laid out LA’s course to achieving 50 million visitors to LA by 2020. We have the momentum of back-to-back record visitation years in 2011 and 2012 and 50 million is within our reach.

We shared our international marketing, advertising, travel trade and meeting planner outreach, and PR activity. We also shared our “Marketing and Planning Resource” with every attendee, filled with industry analysis, visitor profiles, and forecasts to help you, our members, with your own business plans for 2014 and beyond.

We also announced plans to expand our successful “Endless Entertainment” campaign into more key domestic markets in the year ahead, as well as other new and returning programs that members can participate in and benefit from.  

Excitement is building about the many new hotels moving forward in LA. Buzz is building about the Line Hotel, opening later this year in Koreatown, billed as the first “lifestyle hotel in the United States to draw upon Korean and Korean-American culture, food and design.”

When the newest outpost of the highly fashionable Ace Hotel opens later this year in a renovated United Artists Building, it will be part of an overall revitalization of the Historic Theatre District in Downtown. Known as the “Bringing Back Broadway Initiative,” it will feature a new Downtown Street Car connecting the Civic Center and Historic Core areas with L.A. LIVE and the Los Angeles Convention Center, with construction set to begin next year.   

In total, 10 new hotel properties with 2,135 rooms are under construction and are set for completion before the end of 2014. While that is great progress, our hotels are at record occupancy nearing 80%. In fact, we surpassed 90% in recent weeks in Los Angeles. That means many of them are at capacity most of the year, and LA is at risk of losing visitation to other cities.

So we have to keep the pressure on to attract new and bigger hotels to absorb the growth in demand, and secure large conventions.

This fall, we will also see the official opening of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at LAX, one of the cornerstones of our strategy to grow tourism in LA by increasing international visitation. The gorgeous $1.9 billion terminal will have 18 gates, nine of which can handle the largest next-generation aircraft like the A-380, more than any other airport in the United States. The more than 60 ultra-high end, trend-setting shopping and dining options include many that are LA-based brands and reflect the experience international visitors will have in LA.

The list goes on and on. Indeed, there is much to keep up with. But as always, LATCB will be there, working on behalf of our members and partners, and ensuring that the world keeps coming to LA.

With best wishes,

Ernest Wooden, Jr.
President and CEO
Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board