POSTED: May 9th 2017

Don Skeoch: 2024 is my Olympic Dream and LA's cultural tourism is our biggest asset

There are 122 different languages spoke in LA making it one of the most diverse cities in the USA © Bigstock
There are 122 different languages spoke in LA making it one of the most diverse cities in the USA © Bigstock

Food trucks abound in LA and even Italian Prince Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia has a gourmet pasta truck © Prince of Venice
Food trucks abound in LA and even Italian Prince Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia has a gourmet pasta truck © Prince of Venice

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) As Los Angeles endeavors to host the city's third Games in 2024 the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board (Discover LA) is paying attention to their stronghold in this bid race, the city's cultural tourism.

LA is a world renowned destination as Discover LA and Mayor Eric Garcetti already has emphasized the power of the local market soaring in 2016 to over 47.3 million visitors up 3.8% and breaking their original record. 

The city offers a rich panorama spanning from the Pacific Ocean to the mountains with a number of individual ethnic neighborhoods making it one of the most culturally diverse cities in America.

However Don Skeoch, Discover LA Chief Marketing Officer, takes this Olympic bid personally and he explains why, "I am an Olympic fanatic. During Rio, that was my vacation time this year, I went nearly 24/7 watching the Olympics. I was a swimmer in college and then after college went into Olympic trials. But even aside from swimming if it is table tennis, archery, basketball or track and field I just am an Olympic fanatic. I live and breathe it, I absolutely love it.

"This is my Olympic Dream. I have been following it so closely it would be thrilling to me if Los Angeles was awarded the 2024 Olympics that would be my swan song. I think I would work up to the Olympic Ceremonies and that would be retirement. Then I would be there every single day."

Skeoch noted that Los Angeles tourism is just escalating, "I will tell you right now there has just been so much momentum in so many different areas of Los Angeles. There are a lot of third parties like The Lonely Planet, The Resonance Report and they rank tourism cities. It was last year  that I looked at the Resonance Report and I don't think we were in the top 10, but this year we are number 2 behind New York for the US Resonance Report ranking. And then we rose to number seven in the world. New York is number three and we are number seven.

"Recently they alluded LA is on the rise, so we are anticipating that ranking is going to continue to increase. Lonely Planet has named us the number two destination in the world behind Cape Town, South Africa.

"There has just been this tremendous momentum and there has just been a lot of media attention about LA as a travel destination," he added.

Millennials pay attention to Food

Maybe their secret just boils down to a formidable diversity of culinary culture catering to a number of nationalities and foodies that has given the city a boost.

 "If you look at our brand pillars we have a strong focus, after branding the destination we hone in on culinary. We determined the millennials will travel for food. They love food.

"But the culinary is a very big mover, they will pick a destination based on the food choices. I think just about every food magazine in the US has written about 'this is LA's year'. 2016 is LA's year.

"I think what drives us is we have 122 different languages spoken in Los Angeles so consequently I don't know if we have 122 different types of food but we have a lot of food diversity. And it is not only what we would consider the stuffy white tablecloth high end restaurant, it is also street tacos.

"We have the best street tacos you can get, and then there is sushi, it covers all levels of the culinary trades. But LA is having their moment and I think it will continue," he commented.

Cultural Tourism

"Another brand pillar of ours is cultural tourism and for many, many years I don't think LA was given its credit for the amazing cultural portfolio that we have in Los Angeles. We have 115 museums, people don't know that.

"We have also become the definitive capital of contemporary art in the world. And can now even extend beyond that. For example the The Broad Museum."

The Broad museum is a trove of contemporary art that has gathered a huge millennial following. People get in the line to be seen and to meet other art lovers and the museum has enjoyed a great sendoff of viral marketing.

Skeoch continued, "Our offices overlook it and even in the rain I peep out and every morning there is a line trying to get into The Broad. I think that has moved like wildfire.

"The curation there is very millennial in its focus and the architecture and the building has been able to offset that because it is such a beautiful building. It is such a traditional museum in every way. On the heels of that we have in 2018 the Academy of Motion Picture Museum opening.

"That is going to be an annex to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) so you will see everything from Dorothy's shoes in the Wizard of Oz and all this different major motion picture memorabilia. This is what LA is so well known for and it will be in a museum.

"George Lucas recently announced the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts which is going to be in Los Angeles and that is huge for us.

"I think as far as cultural tourism is concerned LA is coming into its own and that will continue right up to the Olympics."

Skeoch feels confident that the cultural patrimony that LA offers will attract pre Games and post Games extended trips.

He said, "People will have tickets for the opening ceremony and the first five days but then may decide to come in a week earlier to take advantage of the food and the cultural offerings. And then they can enjoy the outdoors and the weather, that really plays into this very well," he concluded.

The City of Angels and the City of Lights (Paris, France) are running a two horse race that is likely to end up with two editions of the Games being awarded at once. The IOC is investigating the possibility of making an exception with two very high profile cities in the final stage. 

We will find out in September at the IOC session in Lima, Peru.

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-six years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.

Keywords · Olympics · Discover LA

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