For the sixth year in a row, Los Angeles County has set a fresh record for visitors, with 2016’s surge coming from both domestic and international visitors with a taste for warm weather and new magical tourist attractions.
During a news conference Wednesday at Universal Studios Hollywood, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that L.A. County hosted 47.3 million visitors in 2016, a 4% increase over the previous year.
Los Angeles International Airport, already one of the nation’s busiest airports, was the point of arrival for many of those tourists: It saw a record 80.9 million passengers last year, an 8% increase over 2015. Of those, 22.6 million, or 28%, were international travelers, who tend to stay longer and spend more than domestic visitors.
Garcetti attributed the growth partly to investments made in the past few years on several new attractions in Los Angeles County, including the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion that opened last year at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The park was so popular over the New Year’s holiday weekend that it reached capacity for the first time in its history, forcing park officials to temporarily close entrance gates.
Travel and tourism officials have attributed the increase in spending on travel, which is happening nationwide, to lower fuel costs and airfares, along with increased economic optimism among most Americans. Las Vegas reported a record 42.9 million visitors last year, surpassing the previous record of 42.3 million in 2015.