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Hahn Going to Asia to Boost Economy

November 03, 2002|Beth Shuster | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn plans a 10-day mission to Asia to boost tourism, enhance the environmental operations at the Port of Los Angeles, promote the use of LAX and regional airports and bring more business opportunities to local companies.

Leaving with the mayor Nov. 16 will be City Council President Alex Padilla, Councilman Eric Garcetti and Councilwoman Janice Hahn, along with six members of Hahn's staff and three representatives each from the airport, the port and the Department of Water and Power. A delegation of business executives, whose names have not been released by the mayor's office, also will be accompanying the mayor, but they will pay their own way.

The trip is to include stops in Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taipei, and is expected to cost about $450,000.

The mayor has been planning the trip since the terrorist attacks last year accelerated a downturn in the local economy, aides said. Hahn expects to return with agreements and contracts designed to help the city.

"We are still suffering the effects of a bad economy in Asia, especially in Japan," Hahn said. "I think we need to drum up some business, convince people that we need, not only tourists, but we need to continue to have investment both ways -- our companies should have opportunities in Asia as well. It's really about bringing more dollars back here to Los Angeles."

To help boost tourism, the mayor will hold several "splashy" press conferences, aides said, promoting the city, its sports teams, its movies and its history. The mayor will meet with tourism officials and tour operators, as well.

The Asian market supplies a huge portion of the tourism dollars in Los Angeles, though it has been declining over the last couple of years. The new shopping complex at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue even has a duty-free store for those visitors.

For the port, the mayor is hoping to convince shipping line officials to contract with the city for electricity, thereby eliminating their use of bunker fuel, which increases emissions and pollutants. Such contracts would be a revenue source for the city because these shipping lines would contract with the DWP, and they would address environmentalists' concerns, said Deputy Mayor Troy Edwards.

The mayor also is to talk to Asian airline carriers about the LAX master plan to promote its benefits, and also to encourage more use of such regional airports as Ontario. The mayor's trip to Mexico City last year helped complete agreements for airlines there to begin using Ontario.

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