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Forecast for tourism in Southern California is positive

November 10, 2011 | 12:49 pm

Touristson rodedrive

Southern California’s tourism and hotel industries have rebounded strongly from the recession and are expected to continue to improve next year.

That was the message issued Thursday by industry leaders attending the 2011 Southern California Visitors Industry Outlook Conference in Anaheim, an annual gathering of the region’s convention, hotel and tourism leaders.

While hotels suffered steep drops in demand and revenue in 2008 and 2009, industry leaders said Thursday that a decline in construction of new hotels and an increase in demand from business travelers and international visitors should push revenue and occupancy levels back to pre-recession levels by next year.

Hotel occupancy levels in Los Angeles County are projected to reach 77% next year, about the same rate as in 2007, according to a forecast by PKF Consulting USA.

“We don’t see another down cycle at least not before 2015,” PKF senior vice president Jeff Lugosi told the gathering at the Disneyland Hotel.

Tourism experts also predicted Southern California tourism will continue to grow thanks to the opening next year of several new attractions, including "Carsland," a new themed land at Disney’s California Adventure Park, and "Transformers: The Ride" at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Business and leisure travelers who cut back on spending during the recession are ready to spend again, industry experts said.

“People are tired of feeling bad,” said Gary Sherwin, president of Visit Newport Beach Inc., the tourism agency for Newport Beach.


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Hugo Martin

Photo: Tourists pose for photos on Rodeo Drive. Credit: Los Angeles Times