“There is no way that we're going to see complete recovery in our sector without Canada.”
Adam Burke, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, made that loud and clear at a Toronto event on 26APR celebrating LA’s comeback and sharing a glimpse of what’s new in the City of Angels.
In 2019, Los Angeles welcomed 51 million visitors, capping 10 straight years of record growth. This year, Burke says the tourism board is forecasting a return of 92% of that 51 million in visitation.
How important is the Canadian market in that recovery? It’s hands-down critical.
For decades, Canada has been one of LA’s top international markets, Burke tells Open Jaw. In fact, in 2019, 775,000 Canadians generated over $410 million for the city’s tourism sector. That's almost half a billion dollars in economic impact.
What’s new and shiny in Tinseltown?
Los Angeles is constantly evolving as an immersive playground of the latest and greatest in entertainment, sports, culinary, and so much more–even during the pandemic. The event hosted a panel of hotel and entertainment partners exploring the latest tourism developments in LA.
Here’s what the panellists and Burke had to share:
LAX is undergoing a US$14 billion modernization to completely re-imagine the experience of the Los Angeles International Airport, which includes an additional 12 to 15 gates dedicated specifically to international visitation. The long-awaited train connecting LAX to downtown LA is expected to launch in 2023.
Los Angeles added 2,100 new hotel rooms in 2021. Here’s a highlight from each of the hotel partners attending the event:
Terranea Resort: This seaside property has a sea salt conservatory that harvests and produces Terranea’s own signature sea salt.
The Hollywood Roosevelt: If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie or Julia Roberts, the Roosevelt is the spot to be.
The Garland: Find the perfect mix of seclusion, urban oasis, and authentic LA experience at this retro-cool hotel.
Theme parks and attractions
Pop quiz: Which city in the U.S. has the most museums, art galleries, and performing arts venues? It’s Los Angeles, notes Burke, calling it “one of the best-kept secrets” of the city.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is one of the newest additions to LA’s growing list of world-class attractions, where guests can learn about the arts, sciences, and artists of moviemaking, and view original costumes and set pieces from top blockbuster hits.
At Warner Brothers Studios, visitors can explore the set of their favourite shows and films, while at Universal Studios Hollywood, the brand new Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! helps answer the all-important question, "What are your pets really doing when you're not at home?"
Home of the Dodgers, Lakers, and Kings, Los Angeles has long been a mecca for sports fans. It's no wonder, then, that the new, state-of-the-art SoFi Stadium is making such a splash. It features seating for 100,000 people, an adjacent six-acre lake, a hanging video screen that’s larger than the field, and a roof covered in LED screens that can air live footage to passing airplanes.
Longer stays, more neighbourhoods: Trending travel habits
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s not to take travel for granted. People are taking that to heart and travelling like there’s no tomorrow.
“If people are sitting on a flight credit, they look at that as a purchase they made a couple of years ago. So people are utilizing their credits and buying on top of it with their savings. We're also seeing people staying longer,” Burke tells Open Jaw.
“Another one of the big trends we're seeing is that a lot more people are dividing their longer stays across a couple of different neighbourhoods.”
Citing studies showing the health benefits of travel–even simply the act of travel planning–Burke says it all boils down to people needing to get away.
“We've seen travel move from being a discretionary purchase to being essential. There’s really this feeling of a need to travel,” he notes.
Travel trade “more important than ever”
As the world of travel becomes an increasingly complex place, it can be hard to navigate without some professional guidance.
“I think the travel trade is becoming more important than ever,” Burke tells Open Jaw. “During the pandemic, people were desperate to find a single source of accurate, up-to-date information. The travel trade and destination organization saw huge increases in web traffic because we became that trusted source.”
Burke foresees that trend continuing as travellers look to advisors to navigate the nuances of international travel and itinerary planning.
Get the latest on LA
For travel advisors hoping to brush up on their La-La-Land knowledge, Burke shared two resources that can get them up to speed:
1. The Discover Los Angeles official website.
Advisors can use the site to search for attractions, hotels, restaurants, events, and more by neighbourhood and create itineraries to inspire their clients.
2. The LA Insider online training program.
The program has educational modules that, once completed, certify advisors as an LA Insider. “It's really important for the trade because when you're talking to customers or building their vacation, you're getting really up-to-date and accurate knowledge about the destination,” Burke notes.