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Filling the Convention Center: Hotels Are Key

April 14, 2002

"L.A.'s Wide-Open Space" (editorial, April 10) leaves readers with the perception that the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau has no oversight. On the contrary, the bureau is held accountable to its board of directors, a broad base of volunteer leaders from businesses throughout Los Angeles, to the L.A. City Council and to the mayor.

Our work is governed by a three-year strategic marketing plan created in partnership with hotels, airlines, labor, attractions and the Los Angeles Convention Center. Each year, we submit to the city our goals and performance on reaching them.

On a quarterly basis our production in international marketing, cultural tourism, domestic marketing and sports and entertainment, as well as convention sales, is examined. Over the course of the past 10 years, that accountability has led to enormous growth in both the visitor economy and the work of the LACVB.

While booking conventions is only part of our job, a portion of that market segment is seeing strong sales production. The bureau is responsible for meetings that can be contained in individual hotels.

In the past eight months, we have closed on more than 350 meetings yielding $57 million in direct revenue.

Convention center bookings have fallen in the past 18 months for a number of reasons. Correctly, you pointed out the No. 1 reason: a dearth of hotel rooms within walking distance of the Los Angeles Convention Center. We enjoyed success in recent years while two of our competitors--San Diego and Anaheim--were recasting the hotel and visitor infrastructure that now supports their centers. We must do the same.

George Kirkland

President, Los Angeles

Convention & Visitors Bureau

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