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April 21, 2013 | By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times
LAS VEGAS - For nearly five years, the steel-and-concrete skeleton of the abandoned resort project has taunted this city, a glaring reminder that casino operators here can't win every economic wager they place. The stalled Echelon project sits on hallowed gambling ground: It's where the old Stardust casino was imploded. Construction on the new $4-billion resort began in 2007 and froze a year later - a failure so embarrassing that city officials later ordered owner Boyd Gaming Corp.
March 25, 2013 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
Are you in summer vacation planning mode? Every state and many cities in America publish their own tourism guides, vacation planners, whatever you want to call them -- and they're usually free for the asking. Sure, the glossy, color magazines are out to lure you to visit, but they're also packed with good information and maps. The deal: You can find guides by searching online for state or local tourism offices. For example, the 108-page Official State of Alaska Vacation Planner is offered in hard copy (it takes three weeks by mail)
March 13, 2013 | By Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times
MEXICO CITY - Scientists who take the annual measure of Mexican forestland famously occupied by migrating monarch butterflies said Wednesday that the butterfly population is the smallest they have seen in two decades. The likely cause is unseasonably warm weather recently in the United States, as well as a dramatic loss of habitat in the U.S. Corn Belt, the scientists said. In a survey carried out in December and January, researchers found nine monarch colonies wintering in central Mexico, occupying a total of 1.19 hectares, or 2.94 acres, a 59% decrease compared with the previous year's study.
March 12, 2013 | By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times
A bright spot in the local economy - tourism - continues to generate big numbers for Los Angeles County's hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses. Tourists spent $16.4 billion in 2012, most of it on lodging, food and drinks, according to a study commissioned by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. By comparison, the group said, tourists spent $15.4 billion in 2011. Tourism last year also generated more than $2 billion in state and local taxes, according to the study by Los Angeles economics research firm Micronomics.
March 11, 2013 | By Daniel Hernandez
MEXICO CITY -- Just days into his job, the top tourism official in the western state of Jalisco was chased and gunned down in a weekend attack that police promptly blamed on the official's previous business-related activities and not on his government post. Jose de Jesus Gallegos was shot to death in his vehicle on Saturday afternoon after a short car chase near a major intersection in Zapopan, a suburb of the state capital of Guadalajara. According to  early reports , Gallegos' driver attempted to outrun the gunmen shooting from a luxury vehicle before another car cut off the official's path, causing a collision.
February 26, 2013 | By Jeffrey Fleishman
CAIRO -- A hot-air balloon exploded over the ancient city of Luxor on Tuesday, killing at least 18 people and adding fresh turmoil to Egypt's beleaguered tourism industry, which has been struggling since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak two years ago. Authorities said the balloon was drifting at about 1,000 feet when it caught fire and the basket plummeted into sugar cane fields outside a village shortly after dawn. Officials said the dead included nine passengers from Hong Kong, four from Japan, two from France, two from Britain and one from Belgium.
February 16, 2013 | By Rasha Elass, Los Angeles Times
DAMASCUS, Syria - Somewhere between the Christian and historical Jewish quarters of Old Damascus, labyrinthine alleys lead to a nondescript cobblestone tunnel that opens onto an Ottoman-era home, one of this ancient capital's many boutique hotels. Inside, across a courtyard and along the basalt stone wall, several young artists and musicians sit beneath a tangerine tree chatting and smoking a hookah, or water pipe. One strums a setar , a three-string lute indigenous to the region.
February 14, 2013 | By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
MALAM JABBA, Pakistan - Boys in tattered coats schuss down Malam Jabba's powdery slope on homemade pine skis. Galoshes nailed to the planks suffice as ski boots. Bamboo sticks serve as poles. A few hundred yards away, jobless men trudge to the top of a snowy ridge to scavenge scrap metal from the mounds of rubble at what was long the country's only ski resort, a posh winter getaway that drew moneyed businessmen and European diplomats to this rugged northwestern region known as "the Switzerland of Pakistan.
February 11, 2013 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
Guidebook author and TV travel host Rick Steves embraces and encourages "thoughtful travel," the idea that how you spend your tourism dollars makes a big difference for countries in crisis. That's why this spring he's traveling to Egypt , Israel and the Palestinian territories, among other places. How do we become more thoughtful travelers? I asked him, and you can too, in person, Feb. 23 and 24 at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
February 9, 2013 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
MEXICO CITY - You might be hard-pressed to find the word "Mexico" in some of the advertising for tourist resorts in Mexico. Brands like "Riviera Maya" often eclipse the name of the country where those lush beaches are located. As deadly violence that has haunted Mexico for years threatens tourist zones, government officials and trade executives are scrambling for ways to minimize damage to an industry that is a top income-earner and employer. The rapes last week of six Spanish women vacationing in Acapulco have heightened fear and called into question the government's ability to control crime and attract foreign visitors.
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