Los Angeles surpassed 50 million visitors for the first time in 2018, the city's Tourism & Convention Board announced Thursday.
The new record is 1.5 million visitors higher than 2017's total -- a 3.1 percent increase -- marking the eighth consecutive year of tourism growth for Los Angeles, according to the local tourism board.
"Los Angeles is a place where everyone is welcome, and tourism strengthens our diversity, grows our economy, and supports good-paying jobs for families across our city," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Surpassing 50 million annual visitors two years ahead of schedule is the latest milestone in our ongoing work to bring Los Angeles to the world, and the world to Los Angeles."
In surpassing 50 million total visitors, Los Angeles set new tourism records for domestic and international visitation, hosting an estimated 42.5 million domestic visitors (3 percent increase) and 7.5 million international visitors (3.6 percent increase).
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After a slight decrease in 2017, visitation from Mexico in 2018 was at the highest total ever with 1.8 million visitors, a 4 percent increase.
China recorded an all-time high 1.2 million visitors, making Los Angeles the number one ranked U.S. city for Chinese travelers (6.9 percent increase, the largest net gain among all international markets).
Other international markets recording their highest visitation totals ever in 2018 include: Canada with 780,000 (4.5 percent increase); the U.K. with 382,000 (3 percent increase); Japan with 349,000 (2.5 percent increase); Scandinavia with 190,000 (3.9 percent increase); and India with 130,000 (5.1 percent increase).
"The 50 million milestone was set in 2013 as a north star goal for the tourism industry, but our unwavering focus on its significant community impact and tangible economic benefits seamlessly transformed it into a civic rallying cry for all of Los Angeles," said Ernest Wooden Jr., president and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. "Thank you to our city leadership and hospitality partners for their endless support and ongoing investments that have cemented tourism in L.A. as a powerful driver of economic growth."
The board attributed L.A.'s tourism growth to several factors, including a 3.6 percent increase in international seat capacity at Los Angeles International Airport, and nearly 2,000 new hotel rooms.
Last year, tourism supported an average of more than 547,000 jobs in the Leisure & Hospitality sector, which generated the largest year-over year increase in new jobs with 22,996 -- a 4.4 percent increase, according to the tourism board.
A record 30.1 million hotel room nights were sold countywide, a 2.4 percent increase. Visitors are expected to generate at least $288 million in transient occupancy tax collections for the City of Los Angeles in 2018, which would be a record, according to the tourism board. TOT monies are used to fund local fire, police as well as cultural and recreational services.