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To begin with, as any Los Angelino will tell you, the “rebirth” of downtown has been something that has been talked about for years — with little to no evidence that anything had really changed. For quite sometime, downtown L.A. seemed to come in and out of style depending on what new club just opened. Now, however, the changes seem like they are actually going to stick. With the massive investment in L.A. Live; renovations of the Staples Center and Convention Center; an ever-expanding range of new hotels and restaurants; new Metro rail lines spreading eastward and — perhaps someday soon — farther west; and, most importantly, new markets and services for downtown residents, the revitalization of L.A. is for real.
Another reason we held off on a L.A. cover story for so long is that we simply took it for granted. Because we are based in L.A., and with so many terrific destinations we get to travel to and write about, it was easy to forget that L.A. sees a huge number of tourists every day — whether for leisure or business — and that the city has world-class attractions in its own right. And with many of these visitors using travel agents to book their trips, it would certainly benefit agents to make sure they are up to date on the changes taking place in L.A., and in Southern California in general.
Nothing irritates me more than meeting someone from back East, or elsewhere, that still thinks of L.A. as it was in the 1970s, for instance, and simply recites the same old litany of complaints about the city: that it is devoid of culture, that there is nothing interesting going on, etc. As anyone who lives here knows, these stock ideas are utterly false and old-fashioned. If that’s still the way you think about the city, you need to take a trip to L.A. and explore it with an open mind to see how it has changed. If you live here already, get yourself downtown some weekend night and see what all the fuss is about.
This is good advice no matter where you live: Take yourself on a fam trip of your own city and explore your hometown with fresh eyes — only then can go out into the marketplace and represent it to your clients for what it truly offers. — K.S.