Universal Studios Hollywood is L.A.’s most popular tourist destination. So it seems only fitting that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city and entertainment officials chose Universal as the site for Wednesday's announcement of 2016 as a record year for Los Angeles tourism.

Garcetti said Los Angeles welcomed a record 47 million visitors in 2016 - an increase of nearly 4 percent over 2015, and marking a sixth consecutive year of record growth, bringing the city closer to its goal of 50 million visitors by 2020.

Not only did last year’s visitor total exceed expectations, “we crushed it,” said an exultant Garcetti, who was joined at the news conference by City Councilman Paul Krekorian, UniversalNBC vice chairman Ron Meyer, and leaders from the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Los Angeles World Airports, and the Port of Los Angeles.

Garcetti cited yesterday’s big news that filmmaker George Lucas’s $1 billion museum Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will build its long-planned facility in South L.A.’s Exposition Park instead of San Francisco as a vote of confidence in Los Angeles as the center for “the most creative people of all time.” He called Hollywood “an idea” as well as a place, adding “the best storytellers and story makers are here.”

The Los Angeles International Airport also broke its record for total number of passengers for a third consecutive year with 81 million travelers passing through the airport, an increase of more than 8 percent over 2015. More than 22.6 million of that number were international travelers.

The Port of Los Angeles also reported breaking a record, moving more cargo in 2015 than in any year in its 100-year history. The Port shipped 9 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) last year, announced as the most ever by a port in the Western Hemisphere.

Garcetti said the Los Angeles economy has “come roaring back” after a 20-year dip following 1992’s Los Angeles riots. Since Garcetti took office in 2013, Krekorian said the city’s unemployment rate has been cut in half. In 2010 “this city was facing hard times,” Krekorian said. “Los Angeles is on a roll.”

Officials added that the city created more than 140,000 new jobs and permitted more than 150,000 new businesses since Garcetti took office.

Meanwhile one City Council member is seeing a shadow behind the sunshine.

Citing the groundbreaking tourism statistics, Councilman David Ryu introduced legislation instructing the city to report back on “a strategy to alleviate the impacts of tourism in affected neighborhoods,” according to an announcement from Ryu’s office Wednesday. Ryu’s 4th Council District contains a number of the city’s largest tourist attractions including Universal Studios, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood sign.

Reporter Diane Haithman can be reached at dhaithman@labusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @dhaithman for the latest in L.A. business news.

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