The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

With LA tourism booming, officials warn of hotel shortage

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Setting a tourism record for the fourth straight year, 43.4 million visitors came to Los Angeles in 2014, according to city and tourism officials. 

Those tourists spent money at hotels, restaurants, and places like LA Live, Venice Beach and Universal Studio. Last year, Mayor Eric Garcetti joined tourism officials, setting a goal of attracting 50 million annual visitors to L.A. by 2020.  

"This is a competition, and if we’re not out there hustling, people will go some place else," Garcetti said at a news conference in the new Tom Bradley Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. LAX climbed to the rank of the nation's 2nd busiest airport in 2014, with officials estimating a record 70.7 million passengers passed through the facility. The previous record was 67.3 million passengers in 2000.

Los Angeles saw 6.5 million visitors from foreign countries in 2014 - another record.  The destination's popularity with tourists from Asia is growing. Compared to 2013 numbers, visitors from China were up 20 percent, South Korean visitors climbed 7 percent and Japanese visitors were up 6 percent last year. 

The city's hotel occupancy rate hit 79 percent in 2014, underscoring a possible downside to the tourism boom. "Demand is exceeding the supply of hotel rooms that we have right now," said Ernest Wooden, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. 

Wooden said the city and his office are aggressively courting investors for new hotel projects, especially near the convention center in downtown, where the need is greatest.

"It’s our hope that over the next several years we’re able to attract as many as 4,000 additional hotel rooms,"  Wooden said.  That is the estimate of rooms needed to overcome the shortage in Los Angeles according to tourism officials. Wooden said the first 1800 new rooms should open up over the next two years, and he says they're needed immediately.  Over the next two years, the city will host more than 60 conventions and welcome more than 600,000 conventioneers, according to Wooden.  He expects this year's Special Olympics, which starts in July to fill 40,000 rooms. Additionally, he expects three openings to attract more tourists.  

  • The observation deck at the U.S. Bank Tower
  • The "Fast and Furious - Supercharged" ride at Universal Studios Hollywood
  • The Broad Museum


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