Villaraigosa to visit China to promote LA

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Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (AP Photo)

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will visit Beijing, China, later this month to tout Los Angeles as a trade hub and tourist destination, and to attract Chinese investment to the city.

Villaraigosa will be accompanied by harbor, airport and tourism officials from May 26-29 as he meets with Chinese government officials and businesses.

The Port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports will foot the bill for the $80,000 trip, using non-taxpayer funds, officials said.

The mayor said he hopes to show off renovations at LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal and the Port of Los Angeles’ import and export capabilities in an effort to encourage more Chinese companies to locate to Los Angeles, increase direct flights between China and Los Angeles International Airport and boost trade with Chinese companies through the city’s ports.

“The future of Los Angeles is closely tied to our neighbors in the Pacific Rim,” Villaraigosa said. “We will be reminding our Chinese friends that when it comes to investment opportunities, shipping, tourism and air travel, they should think of L.A. first.”

Trade activity with China was estimated at $159 billion in 2012, supporting about 900,000 jobs in the Los Angeles area, according to the Port’s executive director, Geraldine Knatz.

Included among the Chinese officials and companies the delegation plans to meet are Air China, China Shipping, Dalian Wanda Group and the Chinese Real Estate Chamber of Commerce.

“With this trip, we will have led three trade delegations to China in the last eight years,” the mayor said. “The result will be a solid foundation of business, cultural and political ties.”

Before leaving for China, Villaraigosa will entertain Beijing’s mayor, Wang Anshun, and other Chinese mayors at the seventh Sino-US Mayors Summit on May 14.

News of the visit came as Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board announced a plan to open a tourism bureau in Shanghai in an effort to draw 50 million Chinese visitors to Los Angeles by 2020. The tourism department opened its first China bureau in Beijing in 2006.

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