Los Angeles set a new record for tourism in 2018 marking the eighth consecutive year of growth, officials announced Wednesday against the backdrop of L.A. Live.

The county hosted 50 million visitors, a 3.1 percent increase over 2017 and in line with tourism goals Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti set for 2020.

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board President and CEO Ernest Wooden Jr. and Garcetti attributed the continued boom to increased seat capacity at Los Angeles International Airport, 2,000 more hotel rooms coming online, the city’s reputation as a cultural hub and their global marketing campaign, “L.A. Loves.”

The bump in tourism helped grow the hospitality industry 4.4 percent over the prior year supporting 547,000 jobs and making it one of the fastest growing sector in the economy.

Demand for hotels increased 2.4 percent over the previous year and estimates show visitors are expected to generate at least $288 million dollars in city lodging taxes.

“Surpassing 50 million annual visitors two years ahead of schedule is the latest milestone in our ongoing work to bring Los Angeles to the world, and the world to Los Angeles," Garcetti said.

Data from the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Bureau shows hotel occupancy rates for downtown between January and November last year, show a 1.4 percent rise in occupancy from the prior year to 79 percent, while overall occupancy rates remained about steady from the year before at 81 percent.

“We are attaining record breaking occupancy rates,” said Javier Cano, vice president and market general manager for the Ritz-Carlton. Though about 65 percent of the hotels customers are convention-goers, he said downtown’s draw as a leisure destination has helped fill up rooms.

Manufacturing, retail and trade reporter Rachel Uranga can be reached at ruranga@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225 ext. 251. Follow her on Twitter @racheluranga

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