Business leaders pack LA trade show to find — or make — next vacation hotspot

Corey Moore/KPCC

Julie Estrada promotes Legoland California Resort during the 2012 International Pow Wow at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Business leaders from around the world have flocked to the Los Angeles Convention Center to check out some popular, and not so popular, vacation spots across America.

The “International Pow Wow” trade show is designed to bring more tourism dollars into the U.S.

Inside South Hall, the curious float from table to table to hear dozens of promoters pitch their regions as the place for vacation travel.

Julie Estrada represents Legoland near San Diego. Her bright toy display is made to catch the eye, and her marketing approach is pretty convincing.

“Legoland California is a multi-destination," says Estrada. "We get a lot of international travelers coming to us. We’re opening a new hotel next year.”

You may prefer to travel farther east. How about the bustling city tucked between Philly and Washington D.C. where you can enjoy scrumptious crab cakes?

Monee Cottman works to promote Baltimore.

“It’s a beautiful waterfront city surrounded by historic neighborhoods," says Monee Cottman, a promoter for the City of Baltimore. "Fell’s Point, Federal Hill... there’s plenty to do no matter what you’re interested in.”

A few tables down, Mary Straton Smith is busy promoting small towns throughout Mississippi. She may have her work cut out for her.

“We know that we’re not the first or second destination for the international traveler," she concedes. "But we do find that a lot of people that want to experience real America find their way to the South."

For example, Smith says, there’s a lot going on to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Organizers say the trade show’s part of a campaign meant to rekindle the world’s love affair with America... an affection they say dwindled after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

About 1,500 international and domestic business people will shop here for travel deals and connections through Wednesday.

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