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HEARD ON THE BEAT / TOURISM

Laguna Beach Gets 16% More in Tourist Taxes

March 27, 1998|Daryl Strickland

Helped by a higher profile ad campaign, Laguna Beach collected 16% more in tourist taxes in 1997 than in the previous year.

The coastal city reaped $2.9 million from overnight visitors who pay a 10% tax on hotel rooms. In the last five years, tax revenue has doubled, said Kathleen Spalione, director of the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau.

Last year, Laguna Beach launched a Web site and printed a full-color visitors guide that was distributed to auto clubs, travel agents and Orange County hotels. Good weather, even in the off-season, led to more visitors, she said.

Spalione said her group will try to raise the city's profile even more through more display advertising and encouraging more coverage by travel writers. This winter's El Nino-generated storms have already brought a decline in tourists in the first quarter.

"We're hoping the dollars will be larger," she said, "but this current quarter is difficult for us."

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Daryl Strickland covers tourism and small and minority business issues for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670, and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com

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