L.A. responds to Trump travel ban with 'Everyone is welcome' campaign

Los Angeles tourism officials are launching an advertising campaign Tuesday with the message “Everyone is welcome” — a clear response to President Trump’s proposed travel ban.

The campaign features a 93-second music video showing people of various ethnic backgrounds hugging, dancing and skateboarding near iconic L.A. tourism spots including the Original Farmer’s Market, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Venice Beach and Olvera Street.

As “Real Love Baby” by Father John Misty plays, two young men share a kiss on a rainbow-colored staircase and a jogger greets a friend sitting on a restaurant patio in a wheelchair, holding the world’s calmest Chihuahua.

The video will play on the social media sites for Discover Los Angeles, the tourism board for the region. It will also appear in social media feeds in Canada, Mexico, China, Britain and Australia. Discover Los Angeles doesn’t have any plans currently to buy TV advertising time for the message.

Although the video doesn’t mention Trump by name or attack his travel bans, Los Angeles tourism officials said the campaign was intended to fight the message that L.A. doesn’t welcome foreign visitors.

“Diversity and inclusivity have always been cornerstones of Los Angeles culture, but there has never been a more crucial time to reinforce these points,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., chief executive of Discover Los Angeles.

Trump has attempted to impose two travel bans, both temporarily prohibiting visitors from largely Muslim countries. Both have been blocked by federal courts, pending reviews.

Travel industry experts say they fear that Trump’s bans have sent the message that the U.S. — home to a $2.1-trillion travel industry — isn’t open to all tourists.

There is yet no conclusive data to show that travel has dropped since Trump’s most recent ban was announced. However, a survey of 324 corporate travel managers from the U.S. and Europe found that 37% of U.S. travel managers expect the new ban will reduce travel to the U.S. while 47% of European managers said they expect a reduction.

The survey, conducted on behalf of the Global Business Travel Assn., a trade group for the world’s business travel managers, also found that the ban made 34% of travel managers worried about harassment of U.S. travelers visiting the Middle East.

Los Angeles County hosted 47.3 million visitors last year, representing the sixth consecutive year of record-breaking tourism.

In L.A. County, an “anti-welcome” message could mean the loss of 800,000 international visitors over a three-year period, according to a forecast by Tourism Economics, an independent research firm. International visitors spend an average of about $920 during each visit Los Angeles, totaling a potential loss of $736 million in direct tourism spending.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.

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