Los Angeles bullish as it targets UK growth

Los Angeles is targeting annual growth in UK visitors of between two and three per cent over the next five years.

The city welcome 371,000 UK visitors in 2017, representing a 2.8% increase against a nationwide decline listed by the National Travel & Tourism Office of 2.3%.

Ernest Wooden, chief executive of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, said an increase in airlift including the launch of a new Virgin Atlantic service from Manchester gave him confidence that growth would be sustainable.

“We continue to grow by 2-3% each year and the projections are for that to continue for the next five years,” he said. “We have 23,000 seats per week from the UK, and that is reflected in the investment in our tourism product which is off-the-charts incredible.”

Speaking during a visit to London to promote the first Los Angeles Frieze Art Fair in 2019, Wooden said 62 hotels were currently in development in the city, with ongoing infrastructure improvements being accelerated by a ’28 for 28’ project focused on the Olympic Games in 2028.

He added that regional connections to the city’s neighbourhoods would also be made easier with the opening of a downtown transport exchange at the end of 2020.

In the 20 years since the Los Angeles CVB set up its UK office, average stays for UK visitors have increased from just over one night to six nights, and Wooden said he was confident that trend would continue despite challenges at home and overseas.

“Our experience is that geopolitics has limited impact on travel from the UK unless it relates to safety,” he said. “My sense is that Brexit will be sorted by the politicians, and I think that any issues will be offset by the innate desire of the UK public to travel.”

The Los Angeles CVB launched a training programme for the travel trade in May and is targeting 1,000 registrations by the end of the year. The LA Insider programme features travel trade discounts designed to encourage agents visiting the city to create “self-fams” to see key sites.

The CVB also teamed with Air New Zealand on a sales campaign which reached 1,300 agents in a four-day period, and is working with Travel Weekly’s sister title Aspire to promote the city’s luxury product offering.

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