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L.A. businesses make changes to serve foreign tourists

February 27, 2013|By Hugo Martin
(Los Angeles Times )

The rate of foreign tourists visiting Los Angeles continues to grow, and local businesses are changing to better serveĀ  big-spending international vacationers.

The city welcomed 41.4 million last year, surpassing the previous record of 40.4 million 2011, according to the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. About 15% of those visitors are foreign tourists.

In response to such growth, a hotel in San Gabriel has changed its menu to serve traditional Chinese breakfast items, and an outlet mall in Commerce distributes store directories in nine languages.

And now, the region's largest tour bus operator has announced plans to offer tours in nine languages, via pre-recorded commentary that tourists can hear through personal headsets.

"It's the way travel is moving," said Philip Ferentinos, director of Starline Tours, which will begin to offer the nine-language service in April.

The commentary, offered on double-decker CitySightseeing buses, will be linked to GPS technology so the appropriate comments are played on the audio system as the buses pass local landmarks.

Ferentinos estimates that 25% to 30% of Starline Tours' passengers are foreign tourists andĀ  predicts that rate will grow to 50% in a few years.

"Our growth is coming from foreign travelers," he said.


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