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L.A. Visitors Bureau Cuts Staff, Salaries

November 01, 2001|MARLA DICKERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hurt by the steep drop in tourism since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau on Wednesday laid off 13 employees, or 12% of its staff, and slashed salaries of those remaining on the payroll.

The move comes in response to the dramatic falloff in hotel bed-tax revenue that provides the private agency with most of its funding, said Michael Collins, executive vice president of the bureau. Collins said the falloff in bed-tax revenue and an expected drop in funding from Los Angeles International Airport had the agency facing a budget shortfall of nearly $5 million this year. That is about one-fifth of the agency's public funding.

"It's the same story that's happening to virtually every business in the travel industry," Collins said. "We have to make the adjustment like everyone else. But it's a very sad day for us."

Collins said the job cuts came in the areas of communications and support staff as well as international marketing because people in other countries "just aren't inclined to travel right now."

L.A.'s tourism industry has been hit particularly hard because of its reliance on foreign visitors. Foreigners made up 22% of the 24.7 million visitors to Los Angeles County last year but they accounted for nearly a third of tourist spending.

In addition to the layoffs, Collins said the salaries of the agency's remaining 92 employees will cut from 2% to 20%, with higher-paid workers taking the biggest reductions.

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