THE SPOT: Tourists and locals seek cool waters at the beach to fight the heat. (File photo)

THE SPOT: Tourists and locals seek cool waters at the beach to fight the heat. (File photo)

CITYWIDE — More than half the tourists who visited Santa Monica this past fall were from another country.

International tourists made up 56 percent of the total share, up from the fall of 2012, according to Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau’s fall report.

About 30 percent were from other states and another 15 percent were from California, according to the data from the CVB’s consultant.

CVB representatives visited Rio and Sao Paulo in Brazil in the fall to try to draw tourism from the country. South America is now one of the top five international feeder markets to Santa Monica, according to the consultant’s data from earlier in 2013. As of last March, flights from Brazil to Los Angeles International Airport were up by 12 percent.

The CVB likes those international visitors — they tend to spend more.

Tourists dropped an average of $300 per day in the fall — beating out the previous three quarters of the year.

Aside from the international factor, tourists tended to spend more because they had higher average incomes and more of the overnight guests stayed in paid lodging. The median household income of those who visited in the fall was $91,000 and more than a third of all visitors stayed overnight.

Those who did decide to sleep over stayed for an average of almost four nights. Seven out of 10 stayed in hotels while 15 percent stayed in private lodging.

Groups tend to be smaller in the fall as people tend to travel without kids. Groups averaged 2.3 members. More than half of the visitors were couples or singles.

Nearly 60 percent of the visitors had not been to the city by the sea in the past three years.

The Stanford Rose Bowl pep rally drew about 2,000 people to the Santa Monica Pier during the quarter.

Despite some frustrations from its director, AFM, the world’s largest film market, drew more participants last year than in 2012.

Managing Director Jonathan Wolf listed several problems, including the lack of new theaters and the loss of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, which was shuttered in July after losing renovation funding with the dissolution of the redevelopment agency.

Still, about 8,000 participants registered for the event, up 2 percent from the previous year.

A new theater, ArcLight Cinemas, is in the works for the third level of the Santa Monica Place mall. City planners are reviewing the documents and the proposed 14-screen theater will require City Council approval. A group, nominated by council, is tasked with finding a way to fund renovations of the Civic Auditorium.

“Hosting AFM in Santa Monica brings many economic benefits to the community during an off-peak season,” stated a release from the CVB. “We look forward to continue hosting the market for many years to come.”

 

dave@smdp.com