Even Without Democratic Convention, L.A. Attractions Will Draw Increasing Number of Visitors

The Los Angeles hotel industry has had its best year in decades and 2001 is shaping up to be another banner year.

Hotel rooms were hard to find in Los Angeles last summer, as more tourists and business people visited Southern California. A flurry of visitors attending the Democratic National Convention in August and the Grammy Awards in February, both held in downtown Los Angeles, pushed the hotel occupancy rate up to 75.8 percent in Los Angeles County and the average room rate to $121 a night.

That should improve slightly next year. Analysts predict that in 2001, the hotel occupancy rate will inch up to 76.2 percent and the average hotel room will cost $126.50 a night.

A weaker U.S. dollar should entice more international tourists to the city, and the opening of Disneyland's new theme park in Anaheim is expected to cause a spillover effect and bring hotel visitors into L.A. County.

"Although the convention market in Los Angeles in 2001 is not quite as strong as in 2000, the overall economy in Southern California will be good next year," said Bruce Baltin, a hotel industry analyst at PKF Consulting Inc., a hospitality research group. "Downtown Los Angeles will have other benefits, such as more self-contained meetings and more international meetings."

The slightly weaker U.S. dollar will bring more European and Asian visitors who have stayed home in recent years because the euro and yen had lost a good share of their purchasing power, making U.S. goods and services more expensive to them.

California Adventure, Disneyland's new theme park, opens Feb. 8. That, combined with a renovated Anaheim Convention Center, should bring more visitors to all of Southern California.

The convention center now has 815,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 40 percent increase over the pre-existing one. Anaheim's meeting mecca is now the largest on the West Coast, overshadowing the Los Angeles Convention Center, which has a little more than 700,000 square feet of exhibit space.

Already Anaheim has 46 conventions scheduled for its upgraded center in 2001, bringing in about 600,000 visitors. The Los Angeles facility has 34 conventions booked for next year that will draw approximately 550,000 out-of-towners.

Nearby competition

Some hotel operators are worried about the competition from Orange County. The Walt Disney Co. has plans to construct a third theme park in Anaheim. The first phase is planned to open in 2003 while the entire project should be completed in 10 years.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.