New York tourism just keeps growing, but 2011 also a record year for L.A.
The folks in New York tourism oughta be embarrassed.
Here they were, back in early December of last year, announcing to the world that they almost certainly would finish 2011 with visits from 50.2 million visitors. So what happened? Ha! NYC and Company, the official marketing and tourism group, goofed up. In fact, they attracted 50.5 million - 300,000 more camera-toting, hotel-staying, drink-guzzling, taxi-taking and museum-going tourists than they had thought.
Naturally, this is a good problem to have. The 50.5 (NOT 50.2) million figure included 40.2 million domestic visitors and 10.3 million folks from outside the U.S. - most impressive. Overall, it's a 3.5 per cent hike over the 48.8 million visitors in 2010.
Warm weather at the end of December (no kidding) is being cited as one reason for an influx of folks at the end of 2011.
If you haven't been in a while, it's quite something to see New York these days. The hotel scene has exploded, the food and drink scene is livelier than ever, and there are new attractions opening all the time.
Things aren't quite as numerically impressive on the west coast. Still, the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau says the city attracted 26. 9 million visitors in 2011, an increase of 4.2 per cent from the year before. The actual number is barely half of New York,but the percentage increase from the previous year was higher, which is something of a bragging point, I suppose.
International visitors made up 5.9 per cent of visits; a seven per cent hike from 2010. International visitor spending, however, was up 12 per cent from 2010. Which possibly is why President Barack Obama is trying to loosen tourist visa rules and get even more folks into the U.S., especially wealthy tourists from Brazil and China.
Australia is the leading overseas market for L.A., but business from China jumped 25 per cent (although probably on a low base of actual visitors).
Visits from Canada to L.A. were up 13 per cent, which is quite significant.
Personally, I love Los Angeles. It helps that I went to university there way back when Roots was just starting its U.S. expansion (they were selling those reverse-hell, I think, shoes in Westwood Village in the mid 1970's). But I really think it gets a bad wrap. I read all these stupid stories from people about plastic surgery and movie stars, but I don't remember seeing a single movie star when I was in school.
Millions of Angelenos work and play golf and shop and go to the opera and, yes, go to the beach every day or go hiking in the mountains and don't give a rat's ass about celebrities or movie stars. L.A. is home, but they don't spend any more time lounging about the Beverly Hills Hotel looking for George Clooney than you or I do.
There are fantastic neighbourhoods, including Echo Park and Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach and Brentwood and more. There's also nearby communties such as Pasadena and lovely Laguna Beach to brag about. Not to mention incredible food, great weather (most of the time) and fine museums and art and concert halls and much more....