Los Angeles readies for returning South-east Asian visitors

Having maintained a full-time destination promotions office facing South-east Asian markets throughout the pandemic, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board is confident that Singapore’s latest Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with the US as well as the US’ reopening to international travellers from November 8 will put the city in good stead for tourism recovery.

In an interview with TTG Asia, Adam Burke, president & CEO of Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, said his team remained “actively engaged” with travel trade partners in Singapore and other source markets in the region throughout the travel freeze.

New tourism products and hotels have emerged in Los Angeles, promising travellers fresh experiences

Activities include hosting the L.A. Insider online training programme, which provides travel professionals with the knowledge and tools to plan a vacation in Los Angeles; regular travel trade e-news programme; and a new Facebook page that conveys information tailored exclusively for the trade.

“We recently participated in the US Commercial Service webinar series for South-east Asia tourism exporters, and will be exhibiting at the ITB Asia trade show this month with one of our leading tour operator partners, Tour America,” Burke added.

The Singapore market is an important one for Los Angeles, said Burke, pointing to travellers’ average stay of 8.6 nights and trip spend of more than US$2,300.

“In fact, the market is one of the best performing from the Asian region,” he remarked.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the Singapore-US VTL. Not only is Los Angeles the main gateway to the US for most Singaporean visitors, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is also a vital direct connection for both business and leisure travellers from across the South-east Asian region. There’s always been great synergy between Singapore and Los Angeles,” he said.

Prior to the pandemic, Singapore was one of the top Asian markets to Los Angeles, with an average of 10 weekly flights offering 1,600 seats. Los Angeles went on to maintain direct air services with Singapore throughout the pandemic – the only city in the US to do so. Burke intends to continue the tourism board’s partnership with LAX to “grow and support direct air service from the region to Los Angeles”.

Burke: travel trade engagements were maintained throughout the pandemic

In building up towards tourism recovery, Los Angeles has welcomed several new products and experiences that Burke believes will appeal to South-east Asian travellers.

New draws include The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the world’s premier institution dedicated to the arts and science of movies; the revamped Warner Bros. Studio Tour, which now features a tour of the Big Bang Theory sitcom set as well as costumes from the Crazy Rich Asians movie; and SOFI Stadium, which will host the Super Bowl in February 2022.

Burke also pointed to a “hotter than ever” hotel development in the city, led by boutique properties. Travellers can look forward to fresh stays at properties such as Venice V Hotel, a beachfront property; Thompson Hollywood, a luxury lifestyle hotel with a destination rooftop lounge; Godfrey Hotel Hollywood which features a SoCal-centric restaurant and bar; and Fairmont Century Plaza, a US$2.5 billion redevelopment of the landmark Century Plaza hotel.

“With the recent news out of the White House that international travellers will once again be able to visit the US starting November 8, we are optimistic about the return of travel demand from our key overseas markets.

“We are also hopeful that many Singaporeans will choose our City of Angels as one of their first international trips since the pandemic’s start. Los Angeles remains one of the most diverse, welcoming, and inclusive destinations in the world – with Angelenos from 140 countries speaking over 220 different languages. That diversity is our greatest strength, and it infuses our community with a vibrancy and creativity that informs every aspect of the Los Angeles experience – from our world-class culinary scene, to an incredibly rich and eclectic collection of arts and cultural institutions, to unparalleled sports and entertainment offerings, and so much more,” he said.

When asked about the fear of travel that grips some consumers as the world opens up once again, Burke said travellers are assured of a safe experience in Los Angeles.

He elaborated: “Throughout the pandemic, the health and safety of visitors and residents has been top priority in Los Angeles, just as it has in Singapore. California has the lowest transmission rate of Covid-19 of any state in the country.

“Recent health orders at the county and state level add additional layers of protection to help to slow the spread of Covid-19. None of the orders limit business occupancy and operations, allowing Los Angeles to continue its comeback story and welcome visitors as well as business travelers back to our city.”

Current health measures include compulsory mask-wearing indoors, universal masking at outdoor mega-events, and proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test for attendance at events of a certain size and entry to indoor establishments, including restaurants and bars, come November.

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