Hospitality And Tourism Industry Execs See Positive Growth
Evolving Attractions And Facilities Boost Outside Interest
By Samantha Mehlinger - Staff Writer
June 17, 2013 - Perhaps the two greatest indicators of growth in hospitality and tourism are boosts in spending and employment. Overall, visitors to California spent $106.4 billion last year, according to the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber). Nearly one million jobs have been generated by tourism within the state. In all, the travel industry added $48.8 billion to California GDP last year.
On a local level, Los Angeles County saw $23 million in visitor spending in 2012, Cal Chamber reports. The leisure and hospitality industry continues to post strong job gains in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metropolitan Division, according to the California Employment Development Department (EDD). From March to April, 2,600 jobs were added.
Ten years ago, Aaron Levant launched what has become a disruptive
model for a lifestyle fashion tradeshow in Long Beach, AGENDA.
Today, the tradeshow attracts more than 10,000 buyer attendees
over two days seeking the latest in California lifestyle apparel
from independent and major name brands. Levant, here with Long
Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau President/ CEO Steve
Goodling, will host the second AGENDA show of the year in Long
Beach July 25 and 26.
(Photograph by the Business Journal’s Thomas McConville)
Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, an economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), says the hospitality and tourism industries in L.A. County are “the largest and most visible” sectors of the local economy. “Leisure and hospitality was one of the very first industries that recovered to full employment following the recession,” she says.
“In April, we saw a 3.8 percent gain in leisure and hospitality jobs over the year,” she continues. EDD’s monthly employment report shows that from April of 2012 to April of this year, nonfarm employment increased 2 percent in the greater Long Beach area. Thus, Ritter-Martinez explains, leisure and hospitality are “actually growing faster in terms of employment than the labor market as a whole.”
The welfare of the hospitality sector can be gauged by changes in hotel occupancy and average daily room rates (ADR). Higher ADR and occupancy represents increases in demand. Bruce Baltin, senior vice president at Colliers PKF Consulting in Los Angeles, which conducts hospitality industry research, says both occupancy and ADR are increasing in Long Beach.
Baltin shares some of PKF’s research findings for the first quarter of this year with the Business Journal. “Through the first quarter, L.A. County occupancy was up about 2 percent and the average room rate was up about 5 percent,” he says, noting the gain is measured against last year’s first quarter.
So far this year, Long Beach has the jump on L.A. in terms of occupancy growth, posting an increase of 8.1 percent. ADR has increased by 3 percent. “Long Beach is actually having a pretty good start to the year,” he comments.
Both Ritter-Martinez and Baltin believe improvements and additions to city attractions and facilities are positively impacting the industry. Baltin thinks “the improvements to the convention center have to be helping.” He remarks, “They’re doing a nice job there in the center, in terms of renovating and refurbishing it.”
Citing these improvements, as well as those to the Long Beach Airport, Ritter-Martinez assesses, “A big part of attracting visitors to the region is having infrastructure in place.”
All things considered, both Ritter-Martinez and Baltin believe the industry’s future in Long Beach is bright. Baltin summarizes, “All the indications are that at least for the next several years, we should continue to do pretty well.”