Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tourist trap?

I've been seeing a lot of European tourists in the neighborhood. Just this morning, I stopped to talk to a couple who were standing in front of the Cecil and pouring over a Metro map. I asked them if I could help and they said (in halting English), "We want to go to Venice Beach." Urgh. I directed them to the stop for the Rapid bus, but wowee, I hope they get there and back in one piece.

I love Downtown, but it's really not a good idea for obviously lost tourists flashing cameras to be wandering around near skid row. I'm thinking that the BID should be doing something to help these tourists have a good and safe stay. There's no point in getting tourists to visit only to have them go home and tell people horror stories about their stay.

Update: MB did a little googling and apparently the Europeans like the Cecil because it's cheap, clean and it's near public transportation. Ah! Now I get it. I still think a little more guidance from the BID is in order, but it makes sense that if you want to see LA without a car, Downtown is the place to be.


love and hate los angeles said...

I call it "deers in headlights", usually dressed in beach wear type clothing. I helped Asian tourists on the red line at Pershing square and Swedish couple on the gold line in south Pasadena.
It always reminds me of my very first trip alone to New York City. I remember don't dress like a tourist and don't stare too long up at the skyscrapers. Walk and take the subway in the day and cabs at night.

Hatchetgirl said...

Yeah - I agree - I don't know who's telling them that Downtown is the place to be. :( A friend said "well - downtown for them IS the place to be, they've just come to a place that downtown isn't, well it was and it can be again, but right now..." Eric (I think) wrote a nice article on the new hostel at the Cecil. It does sound really nice and if I was a European traveler, I'd totally stay there! :) Hopefully the BID will help them out somehow. I hope they continue to come downtown, but not without knowing where they're at.

BusTard said...

This could be a trend. How? I am not sure. But last week, on my way to the Metro at Santa Monica/Vermont, I was approached by a german or swedish tourist who enquired of me how he which way to the Santa Monica pier. The proximity of Santa Monica Blvd apparently led him to believe that it was close at hand. In any case, perhaps the proximity of Venice Blvd. led the couple mentioned above to believe that they were near Venice.
(As for the Cecil, I understand that, unless there has been a recent change in policy, it rents only to students. Is the hostel aspect newly introduced?)

meekorouse said...

^The Cecil has a renovated portion that caters to tourists that's become very popular.

As for all the tourists, thank the crappy economy for that. The same one that gives you $4.00 gas brings you lots of tourists who are getting a fabulous exchange rate for their money. Traveling is cheap if you don't already live here. ;P

jim winstead said...

my most heart-breaking tourist experience was the woman who came up to me near the triforium with a kid in tow and another in a stroller, and asked me where the children's museum was.

Rich Alossi said...

That's really sad, Jim. What a boneheaded move they made -- is it ever even going to reopen in the Valley?

While Downtown LA has a lot to offer tourists (Chinatown, Olvera Street, Little Tokyo, historic architecture, great dining, nightlife, the Philharmonic and Music Center, Nokia/Staples), it seems any well-rounded visitor should keep Downtown only as a part of the whole for their trip. And that's totally fine.

Once Bringing Back Broadway, the Grand and LA Live are all in full force... then Downtown will be a force to reckon with. Until then, we'll have to settle for it becoming a great place for residents to live. That's a good thing.

pitredish said...

Nevermind that the visitor center on Fig doesn't even seem to be open on weekends (at least last time I checked)!