LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Times' 14th-annual Travel Show and inaugural industry conference, January 27-29, convened more than 24,300 celebrity speakers, travel professionals, industry leaders, members of the media and consumers at the L.A. Convention Center, smashing the previous attendance record by more than 21 percent and officially making it the must-attend Southern California travel event of the year.

"The 2012 Travel Show surpassed our wildest attendance expectations and it's enormously gratifying to have our first industry-focused conference receive such a great response," said David Burns, The Times Vice President, Promotional Revenue, Sports and Events. "We effectively brought the world to Southern California in great style."

The Times partnered with MSE Management and IMG Worldwide to produce the three-day event, launching an all-day industry conference as well as a design and programming upgrade. Of note was the quality and variety of featured speakers, including Lisa Ling, Rick Steves, Arthur Frommer, Adam Richman, Rudy Maxa, Don Wildman, Josh Gates and Johnny Jet, alongside experts from National Geographic Channel, LivingSocial Escapes, Travelzoo, Cooking Channel, leading industry organizations and The Times award-winning Travel and Photo staff.

"I had a great time talking to people that are so passionate about travel," said Ling, host of "Our America" on the Oprah Winfrey Network. "Travel is what propelled me to want to be a journalist and being exposed to so much in the world really changed my life."

More than 2,000 travel professionals seized the business-to-business opportunity attending the new industry conference sessions, a show floor preview and the consumer event. An exit survey conducted by The Times indicated that a wide range of travelers attended, with nearly 60 percent visiting for the first time. Consumers spent an average of four hours exploring the show floor, with 90 percent seeking information about potential destinations and 94 percent planning to travel within the year.

"The Los Angeles Times Travel Show and industry conference created an important forum linking organizations, suppliers and the entire trade together to share valuable information — one place, one time, one event," said John Severini, President and CEO of the California Travel Association. "This event was a big success."

Standout exhibitors Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Ecuador Ministry of Tourism, Mexico Tourism Board and Visit Newport Beach were presented with awards from the show organizers.

"We started six years ago with just a table and two posters," said Trust Lin, Director of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. "Last year, we won 'Best of Show'. We keep participating, and expanded our presence, because it really works. People waited in line to get in, they stayed longer and asked informed questions about where to go in Taiwan."

Jose Vallejo, Director of Marketing for the Ecuador Ministry of Tourism, added, "The Los Angeles Times Travel Show provided an excellent venue for educating Southern Californians about Ecuador's four regions — the Amazon, the Andes, the Pacific Coast and the Galapagos. We were very happy to connect directly with people that have recently visited or who are now planning trips to Ecuador."

"The Los Angeles Times Travel Show was a great experience all around," said Virginia Goff, Manager of Partnership Marketing & Industry Relations at Tourism Ireland. "We were overwhelmed by the crowds, the response to our cooking demo on the Culinary Stage, and the number of people looking to book trips to Ireland."

"Participating in this show allowed us to leverage the exposure and audience that the Los Angeles Times has to offer, which is a great fit for us," said Michelle Lindsey, Western Region Manager for American Express Travel Services, the show's Booking Agent. "There were very savvy travelers at the show and we were able to provide travel services for a variety of destinations, from high-end African safaris to Caribbean cruises."

The Los Angeles Times Travel Show and industry conference returns to the L.A. Convention Center February 22-24, 2013. For information about sponsorship or exhibiting, visit latimes.com/travelshow.

To view photos from the event, go to: latimes.com/travelshow or Facebook.com/LATimesEvents.

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The Los Angeles Times Media Group (LATMG) businesses and affiliates include the Los Angeles Times, The Envelope, Times Community News, LA, Los Angeles Times Magazine and Hoy Los Angeles and reach approximately 5.1 million or 38% of all adults in the Southern California marketplace. LATMG also owns and operates California Community News as well as Tribune Direct's west coast division and is part of Tribune Company, one of the country's leading media companies with businesses in publishing, the Internet and broadcasting.

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