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. City leaders and Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board President & CEO Ernest Wooden Jr. made the celebratory announcement using a hologram created by Los Angeles-based VNTANA, the leading provider of premium mixed reality experiences, at a special gathering of L.A.’s tourism and hospitality community.
“Los Angeles is a place where everyone is welcome, and tourism strengthens our diversity, grows our economy, and supports good-paying jobs for families across our city,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Surpassing 50 million annual visitors two years ahead of schedule is the latest milestone in our ongoing work to bring Los Angeles to the world, and the world to 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).
Global sports icon, career Laker superstar and storyteller Kobe Bryant delivered a jaw-dropping moment via a life-size interactive hologram, sharing a congratulatory message and proclaiming L.A. as the sports capital of the world. In collaboration with VNTANA, L.A. Tourism debuted a mixed reality experience with Mr. Bryant for meeting professionals at PCMA Convening Leaders in Pittsburgh in early January. L.A. Tourism will work with VNTANA to produce additional activations throughout the year to bring the L.A. visitor experience to life using immersive technology.
“The 50 million milestone was set in 2013 as a north star goal for the tourism industry, but our unwavering focus on its significant community impact and tangible economic benefits seamlessly transformed it into a civic rallying cry for all of Los Angeles,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., president & CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. “Thank you to our city leadership and hospitality partners for their endless support and ongoing investments that have cemented tourism in L.A. as a powerful driver of economic growth.”
In 2018, Los Angeles’ meetings and convention business enjoyed a strong year as the city hosted 25 citywide conventions that generated more than 284,000 hotel room nights. Notable citywides included American Academy of Neurology, which set record show attendance with over 36,000 room nights actualized; the inaugural Mobile World Congress Los Angeles, which yielded more than 17,000 room nights; and E3 Expo, which had a 14 percent increase in room nights year-over-year at 32,000-plus. L.A. Tourism’s self-contained sales team generated a record year with a 20 percent year-over-year increase and more than 276,000 room nights booked for meetings and events in 2018.”
After a slight decrease in 2017, visitation from Mexico in 2018 scored its highest total ever with 1.8 million visitors, a 4 percent increase. China recorded an all-time high 1.2 million visitors, making Los Angeles the number one ranked U.S. city for Chinese travelers (6.9 percent increase, the largest net gain among all international markets). Other international markets recording their highest visitation totals ever in 2018 include: Canada with 780,000 (4.5 percent increase); U.K. with 382,000 (3 percent increase); Japan with 349,000 (2.5 percent increase); Scandinavia with 190,000 (3.9 percent increase); and India with 130,000 (5.1 percent increase).
L.A.’s tourism growth can be attributed to several factors including a 3.6 percent increase in international seat capacity at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); nearly 2,000 new rooms added to the destination’s hotel inventory; L.A.’s growing reputation as a hot culinary and cultural destination; as well as L.A. Tourism’s latest global campaign, ‘L.A. Loves’ which extended and amplified a message of welcome and hospitality following the acclaimed ‘Everyone is Welcome’ initiative.
Last year, tourism supported an average of more than 547,000 jobs in the Leisure & Hospitality sector, one of the largest in L.A. County. Of the 11 major super sectors in the County, the Leisure & Hospitality sector in 2018 generated the largest year-over year increase in new jobs with 22,996 (4.4 percent increase).
A record 30.1 million hotel room nights (room demand) were sold countywide, a 2.4 percent increase. Estimates show visitors are expected to generate at least $288 million dollars in transient occupancy tax collections for the City of Los Angeles in 2018, a record. These dollars are used to fund local fire, police as well as cultural and recreational services.