A record $20.6 billion of expenditures by tourists to Los Angeles County last year and increases in income made for healthy growth of the leisure and hospitality industry for the year ended in October, according to a new report from Beacon Economics.

“The growth is no surprise, since local household finances have improved and tourism activities have increased,” the L.A. research firm said in its report.

For the first eight months of this year, county hotels had almost an 86 percent occupancy rate, compared with a national average of just over 67 percent. The local rate was up 2.3 percent from the same period last year.

“The whole industry is doing well,” said Don Skeoch, chief marketing officer for the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. “We’re just growing a lot faster.”

The leisure and hospitality sector was responsible for the second-largest increase in jobs locally, adding 13,132 positions, a 2.6 percent increase over October of last year.

Skeoch pointed to a variety of developments, including the transformation of downtown and increased international flights at Los Angeles International Airport, as helping to fuel the growth.

Staff reporter Caroline Anderson can be reached at canderson@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8329.

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