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US$256.7M Grant Passed Through Capitol Hill

first_imgThe House of Representatives has concurred with the Senate to ratify the agreement on the US$256.7 million grant agreement, which aimed to provide more reliable and affordable electricity and improve routine and periodic road maintenance.Members of the House of Representatives unanimously made the crucial decision yesterday to mark the ‘successful’ passing of the US$256.7 million Grant, which now awaits the approval of President Ellen Johnson to be printed into handball as a law.The House’s action was prompted by a communication from the Senate – forwarding for concurrence Senate’s engrossed Bills No: 9, 10 and 11.The bills included an “Act to ratify the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) between the Republic of Liberia acting through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, and the United States of America acting through the Millennium Challenge Corporation;”“Act to ratify the Program Implementation Agreement between Liberia acting through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the United States of America acting through the Millennium Challenge Corporation;” and “An Act to establish the Millennium Challenge Account Liberia.”Grand Kru County Representative Numennie Bartekwai, who made the motion, said the grant agreement and the bills needed passage by the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning have had a thorough public hearing.The hearing brought to the fore Samuel D. Tweah, Senior Economist – MCC Compact team; Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo; Public Works Minister Gyude Moore, and the Acting Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Dr. James Kollie, amongst others.All of the panelists recommended that the bill, if passed, would be an advantage to Liberians and the country.They also said MCC Account will manage the administrative, technical and financial operations of the agreement between the two countries.The concurrence of the “acts” is in line with Article 29 of the Constitution, which states: “The legislative power of the Republic shall be vested in the Legislature of Liberia which shall consist of two separate houses: A Senate and a House of Representatives, both of which must pass on all legislation. The enacting style shall be: “It is enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of Liberia in Legislature assembled.”Liberia qualified for the Compact after it improved performance on its score card in 2015.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

LRA Goes After More Tax Delinquent Properties

first_imgLeaving no stone unturned in collecting legitimate government revenues for the benefit of the state and the Liberian people as required by law, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), through the Tax Court, has for the past two weeks temporarily sealed the doors of several real properties and businesses for failure to pay taxes over the years, some as much as five years delinquent, the LRA said in a press release yesterday. Businesses closed down owed government taxes ranging from US$1,000 to US$5.5 million. The essence of the closure exercise (which is the last resort in a series of engagements with property/business owners) is intended to compel individuals and businesses to comply with the law by paying their taxes.Businesses closed down recently included the Australian Exploration Drilling Company for US$5.5 million; EXSECON Security Firm for US$183,489; the Liberia Mining Group for US$53,593; Caesar Architects for US$27,400; Mario Services/Trust International for US$1,171; Herbert Wilson Property on Gurley Street for US$10,000; Joseph Wilson Property on Gurley Street for US$6,637; and the Emmanuel S.K. Nimely Property for US$7,171, among several others. Several of the businesses have since been reopened and functioning after they immediately or days later began complying with payments in line with the Revenue Code of Liberia.Prior to requesting closure orders from the court, the LRA assessed each of the properties/businesses and served them tax liabilities for payment into government’s coffers at the Central Bank of Liberia. The LRA also served each 24-hour and 72-hour notices and a Temporary Closure Notice, detailing their tax liabilities. Meanwhile, the LRA is calling on all real estate property owners across the country to pay their real estate taxes, or be compelled.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Police have done a ‘great work’ in charging taxi driver

first_imgTeacher’s death probe– says acting Crime ChiefDespite taxi driver Matthew Munroe denying the charge of being implicated in the murder of school teacher Kescia Branche, acting Crime Chief Paul Williams has applauded the efforts of his officers in detaining the suspect, even as he continues to claim he was not involved.Williams, in responding to inquiries of whether or not substantial evidence was available in the apprehension of the 47-year-old man, indicated that Police wereThe accused taxi driver, Matthew Munroe appearing in courtacting on legal advice.In doing so he alluded to the intensive probes currently underway, saying, “With Kescia Branche alleged murder that is a matter that took us some time to really and truly do a thorough and a comprehensive investigation.”As such, the acting Crime Chief pointed out, “If that investigation did not satisfy the requirement of a charge, on the basis of legal advice, it would not have happened. So definitely seeing that someone is being charged, the Police would have done great work.”Munroe on Wednesday appeared before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts to answer to the charge of murder committed on the Richard Ishmael High School teacher.This is as Police are contending that the car from which Branche’s body was allegedly dumped on Cemetery Road belonged to Munroe. With that, the taxi driver was taken into custody on November 30, 2017, just as he returned from the United States.However, Attorney George Thomas, who is representing the 47-year-old man, told the court that his client denied committing the crime. In fact, Munroe is holding out that he was not in the jurisdiction at the time the crime was committed.However, Williams told the media that, “Persons can say things, and if there wasn’tDead: Kescia Brancheany evidence to link him or his presence in Guyana during and at the time of Kescia’s death, there will be no legal advice in that aspect for him to be charged. So whoever is saying otherwise is doing so on the basis of speculation.”The acting Crime Chief confirmed that Munroe had left the country, shortly after the incident. Police say that the taxi drive could not have provided information on his whereabouts on the night the woman was brutally attacked. However, Munroe has claimed that his cellphone which was confiscated contains records to solidify his alibi.Police thereby requested one month to complete the case file and as a result, the case will continue on January 9, 2018. Meanwhile, also implicated were four Police ranks who were seen in the company of Branche on the night of the attack, but they were questioned and subsequently released.Nevertheless, the acting Crime Chief indicated that further investigations into the involvement of the Cops are underway and from that, actions will be taken accordingly. (Ashraf Dabie)last_img read more

ExxonMobil partner hit by sharp dip in share value

first_imgLocal oil sector…says Guyana investments not in danger After a dip in the value of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), ExxonMobil’s partner, Hess Corporation, assured that the financial setback will not affect its operations in Guyana, such as investments leading up to oil production in 2020.During trading last week, Hess shares dipped by 13 cents to US$46.61. It has subsequently recovered, but the dip was enough for Hess to assure that its investment in the Guyana Stabroek Block, where it shares a block with ExxonMobil and other affiliates, would be unharmed.According to a report originating from Reuters, Hess will be taking action to mitigate any financial fallout. This includes buying back its own shares, which will see the company fast-tracking the purchase of US$500 million in shares. It is expected that they will have bought an estimated US$1 billion by year end.Companies buy back shares for a variety of reasons. The most relevant one to Hess’s predicament is a move to reduce threats to its share value by limiting their availability on the open market.In an interview with the international news agency, Chief Executive Officer John Hess was quoted saying “We can expand the buyback authorisation without compromising our ability to fund this world-class investment (Liza Project).”Elliott Management, a hedge fund firm which owns more than six per cent of Hess, threw its support behind the buyback. In a statement, the firm praised Hess’s plans to review its operations in view of its investments in Guyana.“We are encouraged that the company has indicated that they are committed to closing the value gap and will be dynamic in exploring further steps to do so,” Elliott said in a statement before beginning to produce oil from the project in Guyana.The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres. Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is the operator and holds a 45 per cent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd, Hess Corporation’s subsidiary, holds a 30 per cent interest, and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds a 25 per cent interest.Since ExxonMobil’s 2015 oil find in Guyana, the country has attracted international attention and precipitated intense sensitisation exercises. In May 2015, Exxon confirmed that more than 295 feet of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs was encountered at its Liza 1 exploration well.In late June 2016, Exxon’s drilling results at Liza 2 revealed more than 58 metres of oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs in Upper Cretaceous formations. The well was drilled to 5475 metres at 1692 metres water depth. Drilling results confirmed recoverable resources to be between 800 million and 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.The company had announced that it made its third significant discovery in its drilling explorations offshore Guyana. Its partner, Hess Corporation, had noted that the Liza 3 exploratory well’s net value could be US$6.2 billion based on calculations from the Bank of Montreal (BMO) Capital Markets.Drilling on Payara began on November 12, 2016, with initial total depth reached on December 2, 2016. In January of 2017, the oil giant had announced it had struck some 95 feet of oil reservoirs in its Payara-1 well, targeting the same type of reservoirs as the well’s Liza counterpart.Oil was discovered in the Turbot-1 well in October of 2017. According to the oil company following the discovery, the well reservoir was 75 feet deep. Drilling has been ongoing at the Turbot well since August 2017.More oil was found at the Pacore-1 drill site, some 107 miles from the coast of Guyana. This would be the seventh major find by Exxon since May 2015. It is understood that additional exploration drilling is planned on the Stabroek Block for 2018, including potential appraisal drilling at the Ranger discovery.last_img read more

GFF continues to spread awareness

first_imgTo enable a healthy and cancer-free society, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) has conducted a series of activities to foster awareness of, early detection, and eradication of, breast cancer.GFF at the Pinktober Breast Cancer Awareness WalkThese activities were in the form of a “Wear It Pink Friday” and an information session on Friday last, the latter catering to the Secretariat’s staff and participation in the annual Pinktober Awareness Walk on Saturday respectively. Additionally, the Secretariat’s staff were among 200 males in Guyana who benefited from the Prostate cancer screening done in partnership with the Guyana Cancer Foundation (GCF).Among the areas covered in the information session, conducted by Dr. Ravi, a gynecologist attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital, were definition of breast cancer, causes, screening options, and prevention, among other aspects.Dr Ravi has encouraged early screening and detection to ensure elimination of breast cancer.On Saturday, the GFF joined with other organisations and individuals in the Pinktober Awareness Walk, which saw its President, Wayne Forde, and Third Vice President Thandi Mc Allister being among other staff members becoming engaged to spread awareness of breast cancer.According to GFF President Wayne Forde, it is morally correct for the GFF to execute and participate in these initiatives.“Cancer ravages lives indiscriminately. It cuts across class, creed, gender, both young and old. Promoting awareness that leads to early detection seems to be the best line of defence in this age of medicine,” he declared.“The GFF has a moral duty to join forces with our partners and other agencies to not only raise awareness, but promote healthy alternative life styles that will mitigate the onset of this dreaded disease,” Forde continued.“Football is among the world’s most popular recreational sports. Pick up a ball, call a friend, find a space… Just play ball!” he encouraged.This is the second year the GFF has partnered with the GCF to spread awareness about breast cancer. Earlier in the month, some members of the National U20 Squad participated in the tree-wrapping exercise held on Camp Street, Georgetown.last_img read more

1 dead, 1 critically injured at CNN headquarters

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ATLANTA (AP) — A domestic dispute erupted in gunfire in CNN’s headquarters complex Tuesday, killing one person and critically wounding another, authorities said. A man and a woman were involved in an argument near the main entrance of the complex when the man pulled a gun and shot her, police officer James Polite said. He said the armed man was then shot by a CNN security guard. One of the people was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital, spokeswoman Denise Simpson said. It was not immediately clear which person died. Simpson said the other was in critical condition. A man and a woman were seen being carried out of the building on stretchers. The man’s face was covered in blood and his shirt was removed. Police said the man and woman had a prior relationship. CNN reported that the offices of its Internet operations, CNN.com, were immediately evacuated. Video footage also showed police pointing guns at a man lying on the ground inside the building. An announcement over the building’s public-address system said there had been gunfire “with potential casualties.’ Police cordoned off an area by the escalators near the main entrance, facing Centennial Olympic Park. The park is where a bomb killed a woman during the 1996 Summer Olympics and injured more than 100 people. “I heard four or five shots. I really didn’t see it. I got out of there quick,’ said Jas Stanford, 27, who had been helping take down a temporary stage in the park used for college basketball’s Final Four festivities. The CNN complex also includes the Omni Hotel, a large atrium and a food court. It is connected to Philips Arena, the home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. In the food court, Trina Johnson, 44, of Atlanta, was with her daughter on a family outing. “All of a sudden we heard a big boom. We thought it was an explosion,’ Johnson said. “We didn’t see the gun. Everybody just started running.’last_img read more

What’s going wrong at Spurs?

first_img0Shares0000Tottenham defender Ben Davies reacts after defeat to Inter Milan in the group stage of the Champions League © AFP / Andreas SOLAROLONDON, United Kingdom, Sep 19 – Tottenham’s bright start to the season is a distant memory after Mauricio Pochettino’s men slumped to their third consecutive defeat against Inter Milan in the Champions League.Spurs conceded two late goals after dominating the second half at the San Siro to slip to lose 2-1 in the opening match of their European campaign. It is the first time Spurs have lost three games in a row under the Argentine manager.So what has gone wrong for the side who only last month beat Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford to make it three wins out of three in the Premier League?Kane factorHarry Kane is off-colour. After two goals in his first three games of the season, the England captain has gone five matches without finding the net for club and country and Tottenham have no obvious plan B when their talisman is not firing.Tottenham forward Harry Kane is struggling to find the net © AFP / Miguel MEDINABefore the match in Milan, Pochettino said his star man was a target after questions about the World Cup Golden Boot winner, dismissing talk that he was struggling for form.“I’m not concerned,” he said. “The reason is not tired or not tired, can rest or not rest. It’s a collective problem, not only one player.“We need to keep our feet on the grass.”But Kane, 25, did not have a single shot in the match in Italy and the feeling is growing that he needs a rest to refresh his batteries.World Cup hangoverTottenham were proud to boast a whopping total of nine players in the World Cup semi-finals in Russia but they could be paying for it now.Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris won the World Cup with France © AFP/File / FRANCK FIFEChristian Eriksen, Davinson Sanchez and Son Heung-min left the tournament before the last four in Russia but players such as Kane, Dele Alli and Toby Alderweireld stayed until the end of the gruelling event, interrupting Pochettino’s pre-season plans.Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who won the World Cup with France, has since been fined and handed a 20-month driving ban for drink-driving — a further unwanted distraction.No fresh bloodTottenham were the only Premier League club not to sign any new players during the summer transfer window and look to be paying for that now.The lack of fresh faces mean although Pochettino has a relatively settled first team, who can rival anybody on their day, he has fewer options from the bench and there is less competition for places than at other clubs.Stadium delayTottenham are still homeless. The club expected to be in their new stadium for their match against Liverpool last Saturday but testing threw up safety issues.That forced the club to switch the Liverpool match and the home game against Cardiff on October 6 to their temporary home of Wembley.“At the start of the project we asked for your support during what we knew would be a complex and challenging build and now we ask for your continued patience and forbearance,” said chairman Daniel Levy.Uncertainty about when Spurs they can go back “home” is not helping.There is still no firm date set and fans will not show endless patience if the team continue to stumble.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

Port of Los Angeles marks 100 years since its creation

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat Kings“If he was successful, then the region’s economy would have been at the mercy of Southern Pacific and that would have been disastrous,” Marquez said. While Huntington tried to get his Santa Monica port recognized as the official harbor for the Los Angeles region, efforts were already under way to bulk up the port in San Pedro. U.S. Sen. Stephen M. White, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Los Angeles Times Publisher Harrison Gray Otis believed the port should be a city-operated enterprise and pushed efforts to build a “Port of Los Angeles” in San Pedro Bay. “Those men saw potential for the mud flats in San Pedro,” Marquez said. “They believed the harbor could be developed by lots of digging and dredging.” To a lesser extent, interests in Redondo Beach and Playa del Rey had tried to enter the fray, but those efforts quickly fell by the wayside, setting the scene for an epic battle that became known as the “Free Harbor Contest.” San Pedro Bay had been struggling as a port for nearly a half-century, but the mud flats surrounding the inland harbor failed to excite railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington. So rather than run his Southern Pacific Railroad down to San Pedro, Huntington bought more than 200 acres in Santa Monica in the hope of bolstering his vision for a “Port Los Angeles.” He built a wharf that extended 4,720 feet into the Pacific Ocean, attracting more than 300 cargo ships during its first year in 1893. “He wanted people to think his port was close to Los Angeles, when in fact it wasn’t,” said Ernest Marquez of West Hills, who chronicled Huntington’s efforts in his 1975 book “Port Los Angeles: A Phenomenon of the Railroad Era.” Congress established the River and Harbor Act of 1896, which created a commission to decide whether federal funds should go to Santa Monica or San Pedro. Three years later, Congress put its money on San Pedro and breakwater construction began a short time afterward. “There was no way a harbor of this magnitude could have been developed in Santa Monica because there are too many cliffs on the beach, and it was wide open to the ocean,” Marquez said. “San Pedro was favored because the harbor went inland and protected ships from the open seas.” The city of Los Angeles then annexed a 16-mile strip of land to connect to the port in 1906. The communities of San Pedro and Wilmington were annexed three years later. The city’s newfound ownership of the port gave rise to a new harbor commission, a three-member panel appointed in 1907 by then-Mayor A.C. Harper. The 100th anniversary of the harbor commission’s creation will be marked during a celebration at 4 p.m. Sunday. The bash will include historical displays, refreshments, boat shows and a performance by Taiwan’s Evergreen Symphony Orchestra. A fireworks display is set for 7 p.m. The first commissioners – George H. Stewart, Frederick William Braun and T.E. Gibbon – regularly met in downtown Los Angeles and made “big news” during the rare occasions they traveled about 20 miles south to San Pedro, according to Geraldine Knatz, executive director for the Port of Los Angeles. The panel didn’t have a budget and its members often had to pay for expenses out of their own pockets, she said. “When the voters approved the annexation and bond improvements for port improvements, the money went to the Board of Public Works, not the harbor commissioners,” Knatz said. “It got so bad that all the commissioners resigned in disgust by 1913.” The first harbor commission faced many of the struggles that persist today, such as building new infrastructure and bolstering regional economic development, Knatz said. “When you read through the meeting minutes from 100 years ago, you learn that nothing really changes,” Knatz said. “There will never be enough money, you’ll be lobbied by different interest groups, and you’ll always have to deal with residents who live near the port. It’s always going to be hard.” The port has come a long way since those early years, with the arrival of cargo container ships in 1937, the advent of towering gantry cranes during the late 1960s and, more recently, an environmental push aimed at reducing diesel emissions from ships and trucks. About 15.8 million cargo units passed through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last year, accounting for more than 40 percent of the nation’s imports. That number is expected to double by 2020 and nearly triple by 2030, according to local economist John Husing. Additionally, some 500,000 people in Southern California are employed directly and indirectly by port-related businesses, Husing said last month. “The port is a vital part of our national economy, but it is just as important locally, providing good jobs for generations of local residents,” said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose 15th District includes the port. To remain competitive, the port must continue to grow while also keeping the environment in mind, Husing said. Several shipping companies operating at the Port of Los Angeles are studying expansion options that call for environmentally friendly accommodations, such as AMP technology that allows container ships to “plug in” to a generator and operate on electrical power while docked, rather than idling on their diesel engines. China Shipping was the first company to use the technology at the Port of Los Angeles, resulting in the elimination of 300 tons of pollution-forming nitrogen oxides since 2004, according to port officials. “Growing green is imperative if any kind of expansion is going to happen,” Knatz said. “It’s always difficult to be out front on these issues, but we can’t afford to be a follower.” Indeed, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach approved a clean air plan in 2006 aimed at reducing emissions by 50 percent over the next five years. The ports are poised in 2008 to roll out the plan’s first provisions, including a so-called Clean Trucks Program that calls for replacing or retrofitting about 16,000 diesel-spewing big rigs with cleaner-burning vehicles by 2012. “The time has come for us to truly commit to cleaning up our air and limiting emissions from the port,” Hahn said. “It is my hope that working together, we can finally have both a productive and efficient port, but also clean and healthy communities.” art.marroquin@dailybreeze.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Upswing has L.A. back on tourist map

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A record 24.9 million tourists visited Los Angeles last year and provided a $12.7 billion boost to the local economy, and city officials said Tuesday the figure is expected to grow this year. The influx of visitors – more than the 24.3 million drawn to the city in 2004 – spent nearly 8.5 percent more than visitors the previous year. Officials project tourism to increase 2.7 percent this year, with more than 25 million visitors spending nearly $16 billion. Delighting crowds of tourists who surrounded him at his news event outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pressed his hands in the palm prints of actor Gregory Peck and bought a tiny, gold-plated Oscar statuette from a nearby shop. “When people think of Los Angeles, they think of Hollywood,” Villaraigosa said while other city officials posed in front of the theater with people dressed as superheroes. “It didn’t happen by accident, and we have to make sure we are out there encouraging people to come to this city.” The increase comes amid a general recovery in the tourism industry since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and coincides with city efforts to lure a luxury hotel downtown and plans by the owner of the Staples Center for a $5 billion sports-entertainment-residential complex known as “L.A. Live” that would be one of the largest developments in downtown history. The city hosted 15 conventions in fiscal 2005, and LA Inc., the group overseeing the city’s convention business, estimated the number of hotel rooms booked last year – for 24 conventions over the next several years – at nearly 290,000. That compares with just nine conventions and 73,000 hotel rooms booked the previous year. Mark Lieberman, president of LA Inc., credited Villaraigosa with helping land two national conventions for the city – the National Council of La Raza and the AARP meetings. The La Raza convention is expected to account for 5,500 bed nights, while the AARP meeting, scheduled for 2011, will result in 25,000 bed nights and bring in an estimated $11 million, officials said. Michael Collins, vice president of LA Inc., credited Villaraigosa’s willingness to talk with convention planners as well as growing interest in downtown Los Angeles as a convention site. “We are considered an ‘A’ market and we need the amenities to go along with that,” Collins said. “With the ‘L.A. Live’ project and the talk of a convention center hotel, there is a lot of buzz about Los Angeles.” While negotiations for the 56-story downtown hotel broke down in November – despite a quarter-billion-dollar public-financing package – Villaraigosa said Tuesday he remains optimistic. “It is important we have this hotel,” Villaraigosa said. “I am confident it will be built.” Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Economic Development Corp., said the state and national economies are helping lure tourists from around world. Added to that is a city emphasis on reducing street crime, said council President Eric Garcetti, who represents a portion of Hollywood. “A couple of years ago, people were afraid to come here,” Garcetti said. Hollywood also has undergone a renaissance, with the Hollywood & Highland Center that includes the Renaissance Hotel and the Kodak Theatre, which hosts the Academy Awards. Many of the theaters along Hollywood Boulevard also have been improved in recent years, and the Red Line subway has helped ease some traffic problems. Other sites in the city also are benefiting from increased tourism. On Tuesday, tourists shuffled from shop to shop inside Universal CityWalk, delighted by the clear blue skies and mild temperatures. “It’s so pretty here. We went through Topanga Canyon, and I loved the town. It even smelled good there,” said Tracy Hanchett of Billings, Mont. Hanchett, 31, was visiting Los Angeles with her mother, Mary, for the first time. “I saw the ocean and Disneyland,” she said. “It was crowded there because of the (theme park’s) 50th anniversary. But I wanted to see the happiest place on earth. It was fun. It’s so nice here. I almost want to tell everyone in Billings to move here.” Friends Tanja Winkelmann and Andrea Jeising, of Germany, said they had visited Los Angeles before, but wanted to return to some favorite spots such as Hollywood and the Sunset Strip. Their 10-day trip included visits to the beach – a luxury, they said, because it was 33 degrees Fahrenheit in Germany. “You can head to the beach, or you can check out Disneyland,” said Winkelmann, 29. “It’s just all fun.” Kyser noted that LA Inc.’s ad campaign – dubbed “See My L.A.” and modeled after the “I Love New York” advertising effort – is running in other cities and appears to be paying off. “Our largest number of tourists come from the Bay Area,” Kyser said. “The economy up there is doing well, and they come down here to get sun and relax.” Maria Elena Durazo of UNITE HERE, the union that represents hotel and restaurant workers, said the improving tourism industry is welcome news for the employment outlook. “Tourism helps create 285,000 jobs – from the people you see serving you in restaurants and hotels, to those who work behind the scenes to make sure you have a good visit,” Durazo said. And Bonnie Herman of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association said that any boosts from the tourism business ripple throughout the city. “It is not just downtown and Los Angeles that benefit,” Herman said. “Look at the Valley and its tourist industry that is growing. Just in the Universal City area alone, we are having tremendous growth.” Collins noted that many of the San Fernando Valley tourism dollars come from those traveling in-state, either from San Francisco or the San Diego areas. “These are folks who aren’t looking to stay downtown or near the airport,” Collins said. “They want to drive around and they end up staying in the Valley because it is convenient to where they want to travel.” Staff writer Susan Abram contributed to this story Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 rick.orlov@dailynews.comlast_img read more