Black Meetings and Tourism

March / April 2019

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 18 of 52

B M & T ••• March/April 2019 ••• 18 In 2015 , Ernest Wooden Jr. was listed amongst the prestigious EBONY® Magazine's Power 100 list. This honor was to salute him for remarkable achievements as one of the most influential African-Americans in the United States. For the past several years, he has notably led Los Angeles, one of the world's most diverse destina- tions, in the area of tourism. Having near-perfect weather, 75 miles of jaw-dropping shoreline, more museums than any other U.S. city and an award-winning culinary scene, L.A. presents endless possibilities that keep its more than 48 million annual visitors joyfully entertained. Wooden began working through the ranks of the hotel industry at the age of 15. He would come to manage hotels for Sheraton, Omni and Promus who were the owners of Doubletree and Hampton Inns. By 2008, Wooden had risen in the ranks to Executive Vice President of Hilton's global brands, over- seeing approximately 4,000 hotels in 85 coun- tries. However, it was at this time that Hilton was sold to Blackstone, a private equity group. This $46 billion exchange was one of the largest property equity deals in history. After heading off to Paris, France to do his doctorate work, Wooden subsequently returned to the states. In January 2013, he accepted an invitation from the mayor of Los Angeles to run the L.A. Tourism Board. In this capacity he would be affecting the global brand marketing efforts, as well as the Meetings and Convention sales strategy for the most famous travel destination in the world. Having participated for six years in this effort, Wooden has advanced the prosperity of Los Angeles' visitor economy and the individu- als who depend on it. His mission has been to successfully market and promote Los Angeles as the premier site for leisure and business trav- el, to the principle segments of both the domes- tic and international travel trade. "Those who come to our city love to spend time in L.A.," says Wooden. "They want to see how we live, how we work and how we play so they too can live like Angelinos." Out of the 48.5 million people who were- brought into Los Angeles last year, approxi- mately 41 million of them came out of the domestic market. "Also noteworthy" reports Wooden, is that "China is L.A.'s largest oversees market. Approximately 1.3 million Chinese come to Los Angeles every year. It is an aspira- tional goal for them to fly long haul to see Hollywood, a city they've only admired through movies and television. Those 1.3 mil- lion Chinese travelers spent $1.2 billion dollars in the United States; the international market is also very lucrative for Los Angeles." Wooden's responsibilities also include oversight of the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission; they are currently adding the new Rams Charger L.A. Stadium. "This will be the most expensive stadium in the world when it's completed," notes Wooden. The Stadium is scheduled to host major sport- ing events and be another reason for people from all over to come to our city. Already scheduled to be featured at the stadium are the 2022 Super Bowl; the 2023 College Football Playoffs; the 2026 World Cup, as well as the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic games." In addition to promoting the wonderful city of Los Angeles, Wooden and his staff are the official international marketing organization for Los Angeles Airport. "We draw attention to LAX as the place to bring in airplanes from around the world," explains Wooden. "We're also responsible for what's called Flight Development, meaning that we work with other airlines worldwide, to convince them to bring nonstop flights into LAX. Every time we get just one nonstop flight to land at our airport, the economic impact to L.A. County is close to $850 million." Evidently this is a highly competitive busi- ness; there are other destinations all around the world trying to get flights to come into their cities, however LAX has been markedly suc- cessful and that's one reason why it's so busy. It is noted that Los Angeles hosted close to 90 million passengers last year at LAX, making it the #2 passenger airport in the country. The city is currently in the middle of investing more than $14 billion into the Los Angeles Airport. One crown jewel of this project is the con- struction of a $5.5 billion automated people mover; a train that will connect all of the Los Angeles Airport concourses together. Commuters will be able to get off their airplane and on to a train that will take them to the front of the horseshoe at LAX. The project also includes moving sidewalks to transport passen- gers between the people mover and the termi- nals. If desired, passengers can then change to the Crenshaw Line, which will take them into the San Fernando Valley. This project is sched- uled for completion in 2023; well in time for the anticipated Los Angeles Olympic games. When asked where Mr. Wooden enjoys traveling to while on vacation, he said, "My favorite places are the Caribbean, Asia, and Sidney, Australia. However, this past summer, our family rented a beautiful house…part of the late Andy Warhol's estate in the south of France. My wife, children and I had a wonder- ful long awaited, two-week family vacation. Next year's venture is scheduled for Florence, Italy." Wooden has been married to his lovely wife for 40 years and they have one son and three daughters. Visit for more new travel information concerning the exciting city of Los Angeles. A CONVERSATION WITH E R N E S T W O O D E N J R President & CEO Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board BY VICTORIA HEAD

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Black Meetings and Tourism - March / April 2019