$13B Spent On Hotels, Theme Parks

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The City of Angels may have to make room for a new nickname: The Comeback Kid.

Los Angeles’ tourism business appears to be rebounding after a slump caused by the recession, tourism officials said Thursday.

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Some 25.7 million tourists visited the city last year, up from 23.8 million in 2009, according to the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, also known as L.A. Inc.

They spent an estimated $13.1 billion on hotels, restaurants, theme parks and other attractions — 10.4 percent more than in the year before.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the growth “impressive” and noted that “tourism is the city’s largest and most lucrative industry, generating billions each year and employing countless Angelenos.”

About 5.5 million international visitors were recorded in 2010, up 20.7 percent over the previous year. They spent about $4.6 billion in the city, a hike of 23.1 percent.

For the first time, most of last year’s international visitors came from Australia. Officials credited the jump in Aussies to new and expanded airline service to Los Angeles from the land down under.

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Meantime, the number of tourists from China increased 80 percent, South Koreans 54 percent and Japanese 25 percent.

“Seeing such a positive surge in tourism from both Asia and Australia, we feel confident that tourism to L.A. will continue to grow,” Mark Liberman, president and CEO of L.A. Inc., said.

The number of domestic travelers increased 5 percent in 2010 and spent more than $8.5 billion, a 4.6 percent increase over 2009.

Larry Kurzweil, president of Universal Studios Hollywood, said his theme park experienced its largest annual attendance since 1996, thanks to the opening of the King Kong 360 3-D attraction.

He added he was “bullish about business and tourism” in general, partly because of the impending launch of the Transformers 3-D ride in 2012.

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L.A. Inc is a private, nonprofit business association that serves as Los Angeles’ official tourism marketing organization.

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