The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Tourists spent a record $18.4 billion in LA in 2013

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Tourists pumped a record amount of dollars into Los Angeles last year, according to new numbers released Tuesday by the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. About 42.2 million visitors spent a record $18.4 billion at local businesses last year and tourism created 21,400 new jobs in Los Angeles. One in every nine employees in Los Angeles County now works in leisure and hospitality.

“As one of L.A.’s fastest-growing industries, tourism has been a stabilizing force for L.A.’s economy and is an integral part of our foundation for the future,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

2013 was the third year in a row L.A. saw a record number of visitors, which is the good news. The bad news is that L.A. isn’t keeping up with New York, Orlando, and Chicago, all of which are welcoming more visitors. One big problem here: We don’t have enough hotels, especially near the convention center, as  The Los Angeles Times reported last month:

Los Angeles County is home to nearly 97,000 hotel rooms, but only 4,875 are within a mile of the convention center. The rest are in outlying areas like Pasadena, Santa Monica and Long Beach.

By comparison, Orlando has 7,695 rooms within a mile of its Orange County Convention Center, and New York has nearly 30,000 within a mile of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, according to those cities. Chicago has 1,539 rooms within a mile of its McCormick Place Convention Center but has 5,024 within two miles.

Los Angeles is lagging its competitors partly because it added hotel rooms at a rate of less than 1% a year from 1987 to 2012, about half of the national average, said Bruce Baltin, a senior vice president for PKF Consulting.

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