The Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, business owners and many others gathered Wednesday for the LATCB Market Outlook Forum where they discussed where LA has been and where it’s going. According to LATCB President and CEO Ernest Wooden, the future looks promising.
“Each year we’ve been growing progressively coming out of the recession, (increasing by) between a half a million and 800,000 people per year,” Wooden said. “Travel is up significantly, our hotels for example are having a record breaking year.”
The Market Outlook Forum is a day-long series of speakers, panel discussions and networking opportunities that provided attendees with a comprehensive overview of the LA tourism market and gave forecasts as to the future of tourism in the City. Experts including Bruce Baltin, senior vice president and executive in charge of the PKF Consulting USA in Los Angeles and Google Travel’s Managing Director Rob Torres shared insight into tourism and travel and Wooden presented the LA tourism industry forecast.
A press release from the LATCB stated the LA Tourism forecast for 2013 is 42.1 million visitors spending approximately $17.2 billion with 27 million hotel room nights and the forecast for 2014 is 43 million visitors spending $18.2 billion with 27.8 hotel room nights.
This is up from 2010 where LA hosted 38 million visitors who spent approximately $14 billion, 2011 where 40 million visitors spent approximately $15 billion and 2012 where 41 million visitors spent approximately $16 billion.
Wooden said the goal for Los Angeles is to reach 50 million visitors a year by 2020. Wednesday marked the beginning of a seven-year initiative by the LATCB to reach that goal.
“(50 million visitors is) a North Star for us,” he said. “There are many things that have to happen and happen well for the City for us to get there.”
With the hotels at 90 percent capacity last month, Wooden said the City will need to increase the number of hotel rooms and he believes 3,500 more hotel rooms can be added without "changing the occupancy of the City.”
“When you’re running 90 percent occupancy, there are a lot of denials due to lack of availability,” he said. “The Tourism Board has taken the position we want to grow the hotel development so we don’t lose the economic impact because no one can come into the City.”
Other ways Wooden said the tourism board plans to bring more people into the City include modernizing the convention center, getting Los Angeles a NFL football team and helping Universal Studios with its new Harry Potter development.
So what does this mean for Hollywood?
“It means everything for Hollywood and more,” Wooden said.
Hollywood continues to be a destination spot for tourists visiting Los Angeles.
“When I’m in China and I’m talking about Los Angeles, the first question out of folks that are contemplating visiting is they want to know all about Hollywood," he said. "They want to hear about the movie stars and the Hollywood Walk of Fame; they want to experience these things for themselves. (Hollywood) is one of the big magnets we have. Hollywood plays an important part in helping us to attract visitors from outside of the city to come here.”
The LATCB is working with allies in Hollywood to help the community continue to be a destination spot for tourists.
“We’re trying to work with our friends in the Chamber and with the City government to try to help us with some issues we’ve had,” Wooden said. “We’ve had some unfortunate issues along (Hollywood) boulevard and we’re trying to figure out better ways of securing it, providing police safety and protection and minimizing (things) that could be an issue to tourists. We’re working behind the scenes with all of our political friends an dallies to make sure Hollywood continues to be just what it is: A major attraction source for inbound tourists.”