Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democratic contender for president in 2020, is hiring a tourism consultant to advise on managing traffic, housing, and homelessness as L.A. prepares for 50 million visitors a year by 2020.
Los Angeles is only the 22nd-most-popular international vacation destination, with 5.8 million visitor in 2017, but it is second only to New York in domestic tourists and is moving up quickly, according to the Business Insider.
With 48.5 million tourists spending $22.77 billion and generating $34.0 billion in economic activity, tourism was huge business for Los Angeles last year. The L.A. leisure and travel industry is also a huge jobs engine that generated 523, 8000 jobs last year — about 1 out of every 8.5 jobs in L.A. County.
More important to L.A. County and cities like Los Angeles, tourism generated $2.7 billion in state and local taxes, according to the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. Los Angeles tourists that stayed in hotels, Airbnb rentals, recreational vehicle parks, and campgrounds paid a Transient Occupancy Tax of 14 percent. Certain areas in Los Angeles were also subject to a California high 10.25 percent sales tax on purchases.
To maximize the growing tourism financial bonanza, Los Angeles has allocated $250,000 for a consultant to advise the city on how to increase the number of hotel rooms and to manage Los Angeles’ chronic problems, like gridlock and public safety. But the consultant will also be expected to provide input on how to handling Los Angeles’ estimated 55,188 homeless, the second-highest homeless population in America in 2017.
Discover Los Angeles CEO Ernest Wooden Jr. also told USA Today last year that the City of Los Angeles could lose 800,000 international visitors and $736 million over the next three years, due to concerns over President Trump’s “travel ban” and more aggressive immigration enforcement, which he claimed could make visitors feel that they are not welcome.
In response, the City of Los Angeles funded an “Everyone is Welcome” campaign last spring that featured a 93-second multi-ethnic music video that was internationally distributed on social media. The slick campaign showcased street dancers, convertibles, people running on beaches, and skateboarders riding by iconic tourist spots such as Venice Beach and the Disney Music Hall. The videos were widely distributed on social media.
Wooden told the Los Angeles Times in April 2017: “Diversity and inclusivity have always been cornerstones of Los Angeles culture, but there has never been a more crucial time to reinforce these points.”
The Times reported in mid-July that a big part of the tourism consultant’s job this year will be continuing to tell the world that the City of Angeles welcomes visitors from every corner of the planet.