Skift Take

Los Angeles keeps defying the odds when it comes to city appeal in a pandemic. But it does check off all the key boxes that travelers now seek: drive and fly leisure destinations, plus warm weather year-round, beaches, and major events. It's no surprise then that the Super Bowl is going to help accelerate its rebound.

The City of Angels was already bucking trends and riding its way out of the pandemic steadily in 2021, boasting high vaccination rates and weekend occupancy exceeding 70 percent as early as spring when California reopened to all travelers. 

Just before the Omicron wave, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board expected the U.S. November reopening to all international travelers to be the real game changer for LA. Since then, leisure domestic drive and fly tourism has continued booming — placing the city’s recovery way ahead of the national average, in part thanks to an undeterred drive market and attractions such as Disneyland and Universal Studios reopening to families.

Hosting the 56th edition of the Super Bowl this weekend is now predicted to push Los Angeles tourism well past a comeback and into its biggest economic rebound yet.

The event between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals is expected to lure 150,000 visitors to L.A. this weekend, generate a conservative estimate of up to $475 million in revenue for local businesses and up to $22 million in tax revenues.

The hotel average daily rate and revenue per available room in the Los Angeles market from February 11 through February 13 are also forecasted to reach the second-highest levels for any Super Bowl weekend on record, according to STR

A big part of this success for Los Angeles tourism leaders is also getting people back to work, to the tune of 4,700 new jobs in the Los Angeles area, particularly in the event production and hospitality sector. 

“Demand for travel to Los Angeles is coming back strong, with 2022 projected to hit 91% of 2019 visitation levels and a return to pre-pandemic total visitation by 2023; though international doesn’t fully recover until 2025,” said Adam Burke, CEO of Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, in an emailed statement.

International spending is still expected to grow from $1.6 billion last year to $6.2 billion in 2022, and in the meantime, Los Angeles has ranked third among the top best performing U.S. cities in 2021, following Miami and Tampa, again largely driven by the local leisure market, while business cities continued to lag. 

Burke said that Super Bowl LVI fans are expected to make their way to LA from both domestic and international locations.

“While it’s too early to get the full picture of where visitors are traveling from for the Big Game, anecdotally we are truly seeing an influx of travelers from across the globe,” said Burke. “Our very own Rams have large fan bases in overseas markets, so much so that the team has marketing efforts in Mexico, Australia and China.”

The Super Bowl is just one of several sports events taking place in Los Angeles this upcoming decade, Discover Los Angeles’ Burke added, including the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, the just-announced 2026 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2028 Summer Olympic & Paralympic Games, and a candidate host city for FIFA World Cup 2026, among others.

Meanwhile, Burke and Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Julie Calvert are enjoying the millions of eyeballs on their football teams this weekend — and by extension, on their destinations — with a friendly wager that will ultimately benefit Tourism Diversity Matters and are inviting others to match their donations.

“Two great destinations, but only one Super Bowl Champ!” said the post from Cincinnati Visitors Bureau.

But only one city, Los Angeles, is all set to see its tourism industry win big this weekend. 

“While we’ve been lucky enough to host the Big Game 8 times — including the very first Super Bowl in 1967 — it’s been nearly 30 years since Los Angeles last hosted,” said Burke. “So we’re using this opportunity to showcase all the incredible new things to do in our City of Angels for those fans who haven’t been here in a while.”

Tags: coronavirus recovery, los angeles, super bowl, tourism, usa

Photo credit: Los Angeles is bracing for its biggest tourism comeback yet this Super Bowl weekend. Courtesy ofLos Angeles Tourism & Convention Board / Discover Los Angeles