LA tourism chief confident of rapid post-Omicron rebound

The chief executive of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board is confident the impact of the Omicron variant on travel between the UK and the Californian gateway will be short-lived.

Adam Burke said initial data on the US domestic market suggested consumers were postponing rather than cancelling travel plans, and he believed the same would be the case for key international markets including the UK & Ireland.

“A lot of Americans are keen to get a cross the pond and our teams in the UK and Europe are seeing continued strong demand the other way,” he told Travel Weekly. “I am confident the snap-back will be strong.”

More than 400,000 travellers from the UK & Ireland visited Los Angeles in 2019, and Burke had made a pre-Omicron prediction that the figure would rise to more than half a million in 2022.

He said those forecasts would be updated after the Omicron peak had passed, but remains bullish that traffic will bounce back within three months as restrictions on travel are eased.

Los Angeles is the only US destination with a full-time London office and Burke said his team had used the Omicron pause to continue engaging with trade and airline partners.

“We want to be proactive and not reactive,” he said. “British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have returned to their pre-pandemic non-stop services and we would like to add capacity from other carriers, which we are now starting to see.

“People haven’t been able to travel internationally for so long and many are sitting on flight credit or have banked savings which they are now keen to spend.”

Burke said 2,100 new hotel rooms had been added across Los Angeles in 2021, which along with improved transport infrastructure and the opening of new attractions including the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures should encourage visitors to extend their stays in the city.

LA is also hoping to maximise exposure from sporting events including next month’s Super Bowl, which takes place at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on February 13.

Watch: Adam Burke’s message to the UK & Irish travel trade,released in September 2021

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