Most Overseas Visitors To LA In 2010 Come From Australia

The Aussies were part of a larger rebound of L.A.’s tourist industry. Last year saw the number of visitors and level of tourism spending return to pre-recession levels after a significant dip in 2009.

When it comes to Los Angeles tourism, the Land Down Under is showing up on top these days.

Australia became the No. 1 feeder market for overseas tourists to Los Angeles in 2010, surpassing Britain and Japan, according to statistics released Tuesday by LA Inc., the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Aussies were part of a larger rebound of L.A.’s tourist industry. Last year saw the number of visitors and level of tourism spending return to pre-recession levels after a significant dip in 2009
“It really shows that we have turned the corner on the road to recovery after these very difficult economic times,” said Mark Liberman, LA Inc. president and chief executive.

Luxury Real Estate Settling Down—Sort Of!

Home prices in Manhattan, the nation’s most expensive big market, seem to have settled into a rut — or rather, a high plateau.

Four of New York’s biggest residential real estate brokers issued Manhattan market reports Tuesday and all indicated that home prices were, essentially, flat during the fourth quarter of 2010.

The median price of a Manhattan apartment fell 5.6% to $840,000 from $890,000 compared with the third quarter, according to market data computed by Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead. Still, they found that prices were up 5% from the previous year.

Prudential Douglas Elliman had prices down 7.5% quarter-over-quarter, to $845,000, and up 4.3% year-over-year.

Corcoran’s figures were down 5% quarter-over-quarter, to $825,000, and up 3% since last year.

Crude Prices Rising But OPEC Expected To Keep Lid On

Rising oil prices are raising talk of a 2008 repeat but pundits expect the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to put the lid on any spike by hiking crude output.

Crude pushed above $92 a barrel intraday on Monday to its highest since October 2008. It closed up 17 cents at $91.55. Oil peaked at $147.27 on July 11, 2008, and then dived to nearly $32 six months later during the global financial meltdown.

Oil bulls say $100 is within reach if harsh winters in Europe and the U.S. continue and the global economic recovery picks up steam, increasing energy demand.

Economist Ed Yardeni said in a Monday research note that he “would not be surprised to see the price of oil over $120 a barrel by midyear.” But some analysts think that any spike above $100 could be short-lived.

Almost Half Of Companies Plan To Hire In 2011

Here’s some modestly encouraging news for job seekers.

About 47 percent of companies with sales in the $25 million to $2 billion range, plan to hire employees in 2011, according to a national survey of chief financial officers (CFOs) by Bank of America.

That’s a large improvement over the 28 percent that planned to hire as they began 2010.  Yet, there remains apprehension about the economy.  Among those not planning to hire in 2011, 61 percent noted a lack of increased demand for their products or services.

The survey of 800 U.S. corporate leaders has been done every year for 13 years, and provides insight into the next year because it surveys the people who are aware of what’s been budgeted for the coming year.  The survey focused on a broad range of companies throughout the U.S. and in manufacturing and services.

Sabre To Drop American Airlines

Sabre Holdings Corp., a provider of airfare data to travel agencies, will stop carrying American Airlines flight information in August due to an escalating dispute about online ticket sales.

That’s a month earlier than the termination date of Sabre’s contract with American, which was told of the move today, said Chris Kroeger, senior vice president at Sabre Travel Network. Sabre, a former American unit, will end discounts for the airline and change the display of its listings until then.

American pulled fares from travel agent Orbitz.com as the carrier focuses on its own system to share prices, bypassing data distributors such as Southlake, Texas-based Sabre and travel sites including Orbitz.com. Expedia Inc. blocked American fare data on Jan. 1.

“American has taken action to impose a costly, unproven and unnecessary system, while withholding some fare content,” Kroeger said in an interview. “It makes it harder and more costly to comparison shop.”

Ryan Mikolasik, a spokesman for Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines, said he couldn’t immediately comment on Sabre’s action.