LA sets new record for tourism with 47 million visitors in 2016

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More tourists came to Los Angeles in 2016 than in any year before, breaking the previous record for the sixth consecutive year, the mayor said Wednesday.

The new record of 47.3 million visitors was 1.7 million more than in 2015, an increase of 3.8 percent, according to a press release from the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board that was issued in conjunction with the mayor's announcement.

"Tourism is booming in Los Angeles, and it's helping to drive our whole city's economy forward," Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a Wednesday morning news conference at Universal Studios Hollywood. “My goal is to welcome 50 million tourists to our city by 2020, and new attractions like the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will have even more people from around the world lining up to come to L.A.”

Records were set for domestic and international visitation. There were 40.2 million tourists from within the United States, up 3.8 percent  over 2015; and 7.1 million international visitors, an increase of 3.5 percent, the tourism board said.

In 2016, Los Angeles became the first U.S. city to have more than 1 million visitors from China in a calendar year. China was second behind Mexico as the country providing the most tourists to L.A. China accounted for 75 percent of the overall growth of international tourism; and the number of Chinese visitors grew nearly 22 percent — the seventh straight year of at least 20 percent visitation growth from that country, the tourism board said.

The tourism board — which has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou — plans to encourage more business with China by opening an office in Chengdu by the end of June.

India was L.A.’s second-fastest growing international market, with an increase of 10.2 percent over 2015. The tourism board said it established official representation in India in 2016, as well as in the Middle East, which it said is an important connection point for Indian travelers.

“Global desire for the Los Angeles experience is at an all-time high, a fact largely attributable to our city’s celebration of diversity and creativity, from which thriving culinary, cultural and lifestyle scenes have emerged,” tourism board president Ernest Wooden Jr. said in a statement. “Fantastic new hotels are opening their doors with frequency, chefs are exploring innovative creative territories, noteworthy cultural institutions are choosing to call L.A. home and people want to be a part of the L.A. lifestyle."

L.A. County’s average hotel occupancy rate in 2016 reached 81.3 percent, surpassing 80 percent for the first time. A record 29.2 million hotel room nights were sold in the county, with the average daily rate for a room reaching a new high of $171.95, an increase of 8.6 percent over 2015, the tourism board said.

Tourism supported more than 500,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector in 2016, the tourism board said.

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