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San Pedro to Get More Promotion From Downtown Visitors Bureau

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

San Pedro boosters like to say their port community is the best-kept secret in Los Angeles--and it irritates them.

Harbor area business people say the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau hasn’t attracted enough outsiders to the port, especially since the closing of traditional industries, such as shipbuilding and fish canning.

But this week the bureau agreed to do its best to put San Pedro on the tourist and convention map by including the harbor area in citywide promotions.

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The tourism officials agreed to make the extra efforts rather than go along with a proposal by harbor area City Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores to take $40,000 of bureau money for independent promotion of the harbor area.

The City Council was set Tuesday to approve Flores’ proposal, which would have set aside a portion of the hotel bed taxes generated in the harbor area to promote tourism there. The San Pedro Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the downtown tourist bureau would have operated the program together.

But Convention and Visitors Bureau officials said San Pedro would get much more for its money if it were part of promotions for the city as a whole.

“We aren’t in favor of deflecting dollars to one particular part of the city,” said Michael Collins, a bureau vice president. “We want to take the whole destination and say, ‘Here is one facet, something new.’ ”

The port community felt neglected before the new overtures by the tourism officials, said Chamber of Commerce Director Leron Gubler.

But, Gubler said, tourism officials have already made several concessions to improve the situation, namely by:

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* Including the harbor area as a distinct destination in the city’s Visitor’s Guide and Professional Planners Guide.

* Bringing travel agents to San Pedro for tours.

* Discussing the possibility of opening a San Pedro visitors center, in addition to centers that the bureau already operates downtown and in Hollywood.

“We feel confident they will work with us,” Gubler said of downtown tourism officials.

Flores said she will monitor the bureau’s activities to make sure San Pedro and surrounding communities are being fairly represented. If they are not, she said, she will bring back the proposal to launch separate harbor area promotions.

“We are going to watch them and make sure they don’t slip back,” Flores said.

Expectations for increased tourism in San Pedro have been particularly strong following the opening over the last year and a half of two new hotels there, the Compri and the Sheraton, with a total of 460 rooms.

Local business people hope tourists and conventioneers will come to the hotels and visit such attractions as Ports O’ Call Village, the Drum Barracks Museum, Marine and Maritime Museum and Cabrillo beach and tide pools.

Before, Gubler noted, visitors were more likely to find destinations, such as Disneyland and the beaches of Santa Monica, in the city’s tourism guides. Those attractions “don’t even pay bed taxes to this city,” Gubler said. “That was a very sore point.”

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