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Travel-industry trade show is heading to Los Angeles

The 2012 International Pow Wow, to be held this month, expects tour operators from China, Mexico, Russia, Italy, the Netherlands and other countries who specialize in bringing tourists to the U.S.

April 10, 2012|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times

Tourism is already a booming industry in Los Angeles and may soon be even bigger.

The city is gearing up to host one of the nation's largest trade shows for the travel industry, an April 21-25 gathering at the Los Angeles Convention Center that is expected to attract more than 1,500 travel business operators and generate at least $10 million in spending during the event.

Known as the 2012 International Pow Wow, the trade show expects dozens of tour operators from China, Mexico, Russia, Italy, the Netherlands and other countries who specialize in bringing tourists to the United States.

Also attending the event will be many U.S.-based travel and hospitality businesses such as Hertz Corp., Hilton Hotels Corp., the San Diego Zoo and Disney Destinations. The event, held last year in San Francisco, is not open to the public.

During the day, trade show delegates will meet with one another during 20-minute sessions, cutting wholesale deals for hotel rooms, theme park tickets, cruises and passes to museums and other attractions, many of which are later sold as part of package deals. At night, the participants will be treated to a showcase of L.A. entertainment.

On the first night of the show, delegates will see a special Cirque du Soleil performance at the Hollywood & Highland center in Hollywood. The following night, they will be treated to an exclusive evening at Universal Studios Hollywood. On the final night, participants can attend a concert at the Watercourt at California Plaza in downtown Los Angeles, with food by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.

Los Angeles city tourism leaders say the show provides an opportunity to promote Los Angeles to companies throughout the world that deal in travel packages.

"This year's influential Pow Wow convention will provide the opportunity to showcase the significant investments we have all made that continue to make L.A. a must-see cultural and entertainment icon," said Larry Kurzweil, president of Universal Studios Hollywood and chair of the host committee for the trade show.

Los Angeles set a new tourism record in 2011, hosting about 27 million visitors, breaking the past record of 25.9 million in 2007.

The trade show alone is expected to generate $9.7 million in spending by trade show delegates on hotel rooms, food and entertainment. Organizers say the show could generate an additional $350 million in the next two to four years from the national and international tourists it will draw to the city.

The last time the trade show was held in Los Angeles was in 2004, long before construction began for L.A. Live, the downtown entertainment complex that draws thousands of visitors and tourists annually to its theaters, concert venues, restaurants and bars.

In a video message for Pow Wow participants, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, "If you haven't seen L.A. recently, you haven't seen L.A."

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