Tourism in L.A. Jumps Up

A record 41.4 million people traveled to the city last year for work or play, a 2.5 percent increase over the previous record year in 2011, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board announced Tuesday.

Domestic travelers accounted for 35.3 million visitors, while international travelers accounted for a record 15 percent, or six million tourists. Visitors from China were the largest source of international travelers to the city.

The boost in the number of travelers translated into a boon for hotels. Hotel occupancy was 75.4 percent, surpassing the previous record of 75.1 percent in 2006. Hotels sold a record 26.64 million room nights, generating $180 million in tax revenue for the city.

Travelers to the city also spent an estimated $16.5 billion, about $1 billion more than in 2011.

"Los Angeles has enjoyed two remarkable back-to-back tourism years that reflect our investments in our airport, our commitment to renovate our convention center, and our business-friendly policies that help hotels and restaurants open and succeed," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

"When the L.A. tourism industry thrives, Los Angeles thrives," he said. "The tourism industry supports one in 10 jobs in L.A., and the revenues that come from its success go directly to the city services Angelenos rely on."

Outgoing L.A. Tourism President Mark Liberman said the record tourism numbers are a great sign, given increasing global competition to attract tourists and business travelers.

"It's important to see the growth in domestic visitation as this market segment is key for our destination," Liberman said. "Internationally, the big news is that in just two years, China has jumped from a top-five overseas visitor market to L.A. to our (number) one overseas market, and this market will just keep growing."

Early forecasts predict another record setting year of about 41.9 million out-of-town visitors in 2013, according to the Tourism and Convention Board.

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