The chief executive of Los Angeles Tourism believes the easing of testing requirements for arrivals could allow the city to match or exceed pre-pandemic visitor numbers from the UK & Ireland.
Adam Burke previously said he was optimistic LA could welcome 500,000 UK & Irish visitors in 2022, a significant increase on the 400,000 who visited in 2019.
And while the impact of the Omicron variant has caused him to downgrade his projections, he said growth so far this year made him optimistic for a strong rebound from the market.
Speaking at the IPW Conference in Orlando ahead of confirmation that pre-departure testing requirements would be dropped, he said: “From a standing start we have seen numbers double every two months and we have welcomed 60,000 [UK and Irish] visitors so far this year.
“If you put that in the context of testing requirements which will understandably cause concern among travellers, I think the lifting of those restrictions could really open the floodgates.”
He added: “Omicron complicated the target of 500,000 and I am not going to give up on that target which remains a stretch goal.
“Looking at the current growth trends, I think we will be looking at 300 to 350,000 comfortably, and I am very hopeful we could exceed that if conditions allow.”
Burke said daily direct services from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were now back at pre-pandemic levels and that improvements at LAX airport including the addition of 15 international gates would result in a smoother travel experience.
He also noted longer durations of stay from the UK market, with a broader range of accommodation product and curated three-day itineraries for six city regions helping to attract and retain customers in a range of demographics.
He added: “We added 2,100 hotel rooms in 2021 and the fact those developments continued during the pandemic is a sign of investor confidence in the long-term prospects of the destination.”