Skift Take

Los Angeles recognizes that global competition for tourists has changed drastically since the pandemic. It's putting more money and targeting more markets to address it.

Los Angeles Tourism is launching its most expensive and far-reaching advertising campaign on February 1 in Paris. 

“It’s our largest global campaign in the history of the organization,” said LA Tourism CEO and President Adam Burke. 

The campaign will target the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, U.S., as well as France and South Korea. France is a new market. LA will be making it first in-market advertisement in South Korea since the pandemic. The ads will hit TV, streaming, cable, social media, in-flight video, podcasts, and billboards.

The campaign is the latest iteration of the “Now Playing” campaign, which centers around the destination’s arts, food, culture and other aspects of the LA lifestyle.  The campaign will also include out-of-placement collaborations with LA-based artists Mister Cartoon and Steven Harrington. 

Burke did not disclose how much the campaign cost beyond it being a “record eight-figure” investment. A share of the expenses is being covered by the $7.5 million grant LA received from Visit California to stimulate its post-pandemic recovery. LA Tourism has an annual operating budget of $69 million.

San Francisco Travel also got funding support from Visit California for its advertising campaign to reverse its sluggish tourism recovery.

Why LA Needs Such a Big Global Campaign

Competition for tourism is heating up, said Burke. It’s not just traditional competitors like London and New York City.

“The names that we keep hearing repeatedly when we meet with our partners in the trade are Canada, Saudi [Arabia], Australia,” he said. “Those are the three notable international competitors who are spending significantly against overseas visitation.”

Burke pointed to Saudi Arabia “literally spending billions” on its tourism infrastructure. The kingdom lured Los Angeles World Airports CEO Justin Erbacci into becoming CEO of Neom Airport last year, he said.

Outgoing Brand USA CEO and President Chris Thompson and NYC Tourism CEO and President Fred Dixon both also told Skift Saudi Arabia has become a rising competitor for international travel.

LA’s International tourism recovery pace needs to speed up. LA Tourism expects 24 to 36 months before visitors from overseas markets get back to pre-pandemic levels, said Burke. 

Los Angeles Tourism Plays Off the Paris Olympics Hype

On February 1, the tourism board will kick off the campaign at the Kimpton St Honoré in Paris. The aim is to leverage the excitement around the 2024 Paris Olympics. Los Angeles will be hosting the 2028 Olympics, its third time hosting it (this is also Paris’ third time hosting it).

France has become a growing source of visitors for Los Angeles, said Burke. French tourists can enter the U.S. without a visitor visa.

Now Playing K-Pop

Like France, South Korea is another visa-free country with the U.S. and has become a growing tourist market for LA. The tourism board is working with a K-pop boy band Riize to provide its song “Get a Guitar” to play alongside LA’s ads in South Korea. 

It is also putting ads on Netflix in South Korea. “In Korea, there are opportunities of streaming and Netflix that we really can’t see much in other markets,” said Bill Karz, senior vice president of brand and digital marketing for LA Tourism.

Update: This story has been corrected to say that South Korea is not a new market for LA’s advertising.


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Tags: los angeles, los angeles tourism, tourism

Photo credit: Los Angeles Tourism will launch its largest global advertising campaign. Jake Blucker / Unsplash

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