(8 Dec 2016) LEAD IN:
Los Angeles is experiencing a tourism boom, but experts are monitoring whether the election of Donald Trump will have any impact on business.
Officials from various cities within the greater Los Angeles area say the tourism havens of L.A., West Hollywood and Beverly Hills are resilient to downturns, regardless of who’s in the White House.
Tourism is booming in Los Angeles, exceeding growth records set every year for the last five years.
According to LA Tourism, just over 45 million tourists visited L.A. in 2015, a record-breaking increase of 2.8% over 2014. The figures for 2016 are expected to reach over 46 million.
There’s been an increase in visitors from China with year-on-year growth of 13.6 percent. The Chinese are now L.A.’s number two international market, behind Mexico. South Korea grew 11 percent.
Robert R. “Bud” Ovrom, Executive Director Los Angeles Department of Tourism & Convention Development says tourism numbers are buoyant, but it’s still too early to know what will happen once President-elect Donald Trump takes power.
“Right now Los Angeles is in a boom of tourism. We’ve had a very, very good year. When Mayor Garcetti came into office, he set the goal of 50 million tourists by year 2020. For 2015, we hit 45 million. For 2016, we expect to come in over 46 million so we are right on track to hit 50 million. Now what does the election mean? We don’t know yet. It’s too early to tell. There is concern. Are the Hispanic population going to feel comfortable here? Is the Muslim population going to feel comfortable here? So we are on a trajectory to hit 50 million, we just don’t know what the next couple of years are going to hold for us,” says Ovrom.
Mayor Eric Garcetti says Los Angeles is a place where the world comes together for cultural experiences and celebrated attractions that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
He says the city keeps setting records in the tourism sector as L.A continues to invest billions at the airport, mass transit, and other assets, that make L.A. more accessible than ever.
One of the most popular tourist areas in Southern California is West Hollywood.
It is filled with nightclubs, hip restaurants, fashion stores, cutting-edge home decor shops, art galleries and 18 hotels, with three more under construction.
On an average day, around 10,000 visitors tour the area, according to Visit West Hollywood.
The local tourism department says $186 million dollars is spent on hotel stays and almost $200 million is spent on food and beverages every year.
Tom Kiely, President and CEO of Visit West Hollywood, says the city is not really worried about a potential post-election international tourism dip.
He expects tourism to grow because Southern California has cities that are desired destinations around the world.
“Right now, what we are seeing is people are cautiously optimistic. Business continues to be good. Right now, this year, West Hollywood hotels are running their highest occupancy rate ever at 88 percent, 4 percent over last year so very strong business. Room rates are averaging almost 300 (US) Dollars a night, up 5 percent from last year so we have seen some really strong business trends this year. We do expect that to continue. We’ve got some new inventory coming on line with The James Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. It’s exciting news for us and with that new edition we’ve got some great new inventory coming to the marketplace. We do expect business to remain strong next year and grow actually,” says Kiely.
Ramada Plaza West Hollywood Hotel and Suites says business remains very strong with high occupancy rates.
Beverly Hills is one of the most high profile cities in the world for tourists who flock to see stars and shop on Rodeo Drive.
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