Mayor Tom Bradley defended his foreign travels Wednesday--saying that they generate millions of dollars in tourism and trade for the city--as he prepared to embark on his fourth trip abroad this year.
On Friday, Bradley will begin a two-week tour of the United Kingdom, Israel and Egypt, aimed at boosting business for the Worldport of Los Angeles, Los Angeles International Airport and the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is scheduled to return on Dec. 1.
In three earlier trips this year, Bradley led delegations to cities in Indonesia, Japan and China to encourage economic activity. Some critics, however, say that the funds spent on such excursions could be better used in Los Angeles, which is facing its worst first-quarter revenues in more than 20 years because of the continuing recession.
"I don't go for my pleasure," Bradley said in an interview. "I do it because it is good business to promote these industries."
Over the years, Bradley said he has been able to use his "influence and position" on such trips to gain access to top government and business leaders. Los Angeles department heads could not have "gotten into the front door if I not been there," he said.
As a result, business has boomed at Los Angeles trade centers, including the port. Once a "third-rate port and joke in the industry," the port is now the busiest in the nation, Bradley said.
"I am going to do everything in my power to ensure that it remains at the top of the heap," Bradley said. "If that means travel to solicit business, I'll do it."