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Travel costs too high? Stay and play!

July 10, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The struggling economy has many people cutting back or canceling vacations. So downtown Los Angeles officials and five hotels are hoping to lure vacationers to stay in town with special packages."They make it very affordable for a family, or a couple, to explore downtown for a weekend," says Carol Schatz, Downtown Center Business Improvement District.

Carol Schatz, along with the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, is hoping to create new urban explorers.

Hotels like the Hilton are offering what they call "Stay and Play" packages. They run from less than $200 to about $300 a night, and are geared toward people within driving distance of the city.

"It's in your backyard. It's here in L.A. You don't have to get on an airplane. You don't have to go far away to have a really nice time," says Kathy Faulk, Hilton Hotels.

The challenging part of the campaign is changing the long-standing perception that downtown L.A.is a Monday-through-Friday town. Many think the streets and buildings would be empty over a weekend.

"It doesn't lend itself well to tourism," says Natalie James, a Hollywood resident. "A lot of homeless people too. It scares people," adds Natalie.

Downtown business officials are trying to dispel those stereotypes. Their hotel packages incorporate Dodger games, theatre productions, spa retreats, and work-out weekends with a personal trainer.


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