With flocks of Aussies venturing back over to the United States after the pandemic, we chatted to the president of LA Tourism, Adam Burke, about what we can expect from international travels return, new developments in Los Angeles, and how Aussie travel agents can capitalise on the LA travel market.
How has the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board fared over the past two years?
As all members of the travel industry are aware, the pandemic caused widespread disruptions to the tourism industry and Los Angeles was not immune. However, I’m pleased to see that our comeback story is well underway with Los Angeles fully open to visitors from around the world.
The sun shines brightly in Los Angeles these days. Our museums, indoor dining, and theme parks are all fully reopened, and outdoor live events, including spectator sports, have returned at full capacity. Hotel occupancy is growing steadily, proving L.A. is well and truly on its way to recovering to pre-pandemic levels.
What opportunities is Los Angeles Tourism offering for Aussie travel agents?
Los Angeles Tourism is exceedingly grateful for the steadfast commitment from Australia’s travel industry. To help educate our partners on the latest innovations from our City of Angels, we’ve just launched a brand new on-demand webinar series, with the first webinar focusing on highlighting news and openings launching last month.
This June we will continue the webinar series with a look at L.A. as a sports capital, fresh off the heels of hosting Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium. We’ve also launched new promotions for our online training program L.A. Insider.
In addition, we continue to offer access to our digital travel trade toolkit, where travel agents can find the most up-to-date information on the latest openings across Los Angeles, including hotels, dining, and attractions.
How has the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board maintained relationships with travel agents over the pandemic?
Los Angeles Tourism remains the only U.S. destination marketing organization with staff on the ground in Australia. Throughout the pandemic our office was open and active.
One of our key priorities over the last two years has been to remain connected to the travel trade in Australia, so that we would be poised to invite visitors to experience their comeback story once international travel restrictions on Aussies lifted. Throughout this time, we have kept the industry up to date with the latest travel safe information for both L.A. and LAX via our B2B digital channels, which includes our trade Facebook page, our e-newsletter program, and our regular webinars.
What’s new on offer since the last time Aussies were visiting LA?
We’re thrilled to welcome travellers from Australia back to the City of Angels once again! As we welcome back international visitors, the city is buzzing with new places to stay, eat, and explore and we can’t wait to host Australian travellers again to show them the best of what L.A. has to offer.
Not only is L.A. the gateway to North America, our city is a year round destination serving up 300 days of sunshine a year and 75 miles of idyllic coastline to explore. One thing that many Aussies may not realize is that L.A. is home to more sporting teams than any other North American city – so no matter what time of year you visit there’s a live game to experience. An all-new attraction for those visiting the city is the fantastic SoFi Stadium, located in the L.A. neighbourhood of Inglewood. Opening last year, the stadium hosted Super Bowl LVI in February in front of a full capacity crowd of 70,000 fans, and is the home stadium of L.A.’s two NFL teams – the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers. The state-of-the-art stadium will host a variety of events year round, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games in 2028.
If arts and culture is more your thing, you’ll be truly spoiled for choice in L.A. Visitors may like to experience the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is the largest institution in the United States devoted to the arts, sciences, and artists of moviemaking. Located on Wilshire and Fairfax in the heart of Los Angeles, the museum celebrates the past, present, and future of moviemaking, and is a must-see for visitors who are looking to experience the glitz and glam of Hollywood whilst in L.A.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has continued its US$15 billion ($A21 billion) modernization project throughout the pandemic, which has included the opening of the new West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal: a five-level, 15-gate facility with a modern experience, cutting-edge technology and stunning architecture. All eyes are on LAX ahead of 2023, when the highly anticipated Automated People Mover is set to open, providing a new transport option for travellers, with quick access between terminals and key locations around LAX Airport.
Tell me about the development boom that’s continuing from in 2021 where the region added more than 2,500+ new room keys.
Los Angeles is constantly evolving with new developments and properties popping up across the horizon, and in 2021 alone L.A. saw more than 2,200 new room keys added across the city. Old favourites like Hollywood have seen several new hotels debut, including The Godfrey, The Thompson and tommie Hollywood, while beloved cultural icon the Fairmont Century Plaza has recently reopened following its $2.5 billion USD redevelopment.
As for the up-and-coming area that travellers may not have had the chance to discover, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in L.A., West Adams, has recently welcomed Alsace LA to what has been an historically underserved area for hotel inventory, while Culver City has emerged as an industry hotspot with an influx of entertainment studios moving to the area. The highly anticipated Ivy Station development in Culver City houses The Shay, an eclectic boutique hotel which opened its doors in October 2021, giving travellers the opportunity to forge a deeper connection to the area.
What new hotels are coming to LA in 2022?
Looking forward, we’re very excited for a number of new hotels opening their doors in 2022, including the Californian debut of Hilton’s luxury brand Conrad in Downtown L.A. later this year. The 305-room hotel will be part of The Grand LA mixed use project, designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, and across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Further downtown near Crypto.com Arena and L.A. Live, Moxy Los Angeles Downtown and AC Hotel Los Angeles Downtown are both set to open under one roof in 2022, with over 700 guestrooms. Over in Hollywood, Whisky Hotel is a new boutique hotel opening this year on the cross streets of Hollywood Boulevard and Wilcox Avenue, bringing to the area a whisky themed lobby bar and restaurant, and a rooftop lounge and bar.
Tell me about the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board’s action plan for the coming year?
Australia has long been a key market for Los Angeles. Prior to the pandemic, Australia was ranked the second largest overseas source market for visitors, following China, and the city saw 421,000 visitors from down under in 2019. We’ve already seen a return in Australian visitation in 2022, and we predict that this is on track to meet pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
With the return of direct flights from Brisbane to LAX this Spring on Qantas, L.A. is now connected to the top three cities in Australia, so there’s an abundance of routes that service the market. Here in L.A. we are collaborating very closely with our team members in Sydney to make sure we are serving this long-standing and valuable market in the best ways possible and keeping our City of Angels top of mind for Australians.