Los Angeles' major export might be its lineup of silver-screen movies and star-studded celebrities, yet America’s second-largest city regularly sets the bar as a major destination for conducting any-size meetings and conventions. Boasting an idyllic year-round climate, transformative public transit, a beachcombing coastline, big-league attractions and so much more, L.A. has a lot to offer.
Last year, Los Angeles hosted 50 million domestic and international visitors — a 3.1-percent increase over 2017 — marking the city’s eighth consecutive year of tourism growth. Tourism officials attribute the growth to several factors, including an increase in international seat capacity at Los Angeles International Airport, the addition of nearly 2,000 new hotel rooms, a growing reputation as a hot culinary and cultural destination, and the success of L.A. Tourism’s global campaign that amplified the city’s "Everyone is Welcome" initiative.
ONLY IN LOS ANGELES
A 38,000-square-foot micro-amusement park — the first of its kind in the world — has opened at the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. Two Bit Circus is a new type of social play space that features an ever-changing landscape of immersive entertainment, including multiperson virtual reality, narrative escape/story rooms, indie arcades, an interactive theater, molecular mixology, a robot bartender and more. Crafted to host 500 to 700 guests, the scintillating, free-to-enter park offers a spell-binding menu of guest amenities, attractions, and food and beverage options that are accessed via prepaid playing cards or cash/credit.
GOOD TO KNOW
Taxes: Sales tax, 9.5%; room tax, 14%; LATMD assessment on hotels with 50 rooms or more, 1.5%; state tourism fee, 0.195%. Total tax if 50 rooms or more in L.A., 15.7%
CVB:Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board
Convention Center:Los Angeles Convention Center; exhibit space, 770,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 64
Within Walking Distance: Good eats can be found near the LA Convention Center. Among them are Tom’s Urban, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, the Palm Los Angeles, Arashi Sushi and Broken Spanish. Nearby retailers include The Bloc, the Los Angeles Mall and FIGat7th.
GETTING HERE AND THERE
• Los Angeles International Airport, 17 miles from downtown district. Transfer cost to downtown by taxi, about $60; Uber from LAX to the LA Convention Center starts at $28
• A $516 million overhaul of Los Angeles International Airport's Terminal 1 has been completed. First opened in 1984 in advance of the 1984 Summer Olympics, the modernization exclusively services Southwest Airlines flights with major upgrades in dining and retail experiences as well as offering new self-service ticket kiosks and expanded security checkpoints.
• A $1.6 billion modernization project designed to reinvent Terminals 4 and 5 is now underway at LAX, the fifth busiest airport in the world and second busiest in the United States. The project's $287 million first phase will shuttle travelers directly between terminals, parking and ground transportation facilities in order to ease congestion at the airport and in surrounding communities.
CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION
Los Angeles city officials have given critical initial-step approvals for a proposed $500 million transformation of the Los Angeles Convention Center. The expansion would bring the facility’s total useable space to more than 1.2 million square feet, including 250,000 square feet of additional meeting space and a new 51,000-square-foot ballroom; total contiguous exhibition space between the existing South and West Halls would expand to 250,000 square feet. The initiative is part of a larger $1.25 billion public/private proposal that would also result in a new 40-story, 850-room tower added to the adjacent JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live. The city, which is partnering with Anschutz Entertainment Group, has approved nearly $98 million toward the project thus far. AEG operates the convention center and owns the L.A. Live complex. Read more here.
PUBLIC TRANSIT UPDATE
• Los Angeles is pursuing a 40-year, $120 billion public transit system designed to fundamentally transform mobility in the region. Included in the endeavor is a light-rail project that in 2023 will connect LAX's Automated People Mover at 96th Street to Aviation Boulevard. Also underway are various subway and Metro Regional Connector projects that will link downtown L.A. to Westwood, UCLA, the Little Tokyo/Arts District, Historic Broadway and Grand Avenue/Bunker Hill.
• L.A.'s Metro Expo light-rail extension from Culver City to Santa Monica has opened. It's the first passenger train to serve Santa Monica in more than 50 years, allowing riders to quickly travel from Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica's sun-splashed beaches in about 45 minutes.