Watch out Los Angeles, Long Beach wants to be the new tourist destination in Southern California.
“It is beautiful to see our city from a tourist’s lens,” said Lena Gonzalez, city council representative for district one. “You have to be a tourist in your own city sometimes because that’s when you really get to appreciate it.”
Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, spoke on the current and future state of tourism in Long Beach at the city council meeting Tuesday night.
In the presentation, Goodling discussed past and future clients of the convention center and possible additions in the future. A second Amazon headquarters may move into the center, along with an upgrade to the fountain in front of the Performing Arts Center.
“It’s all about service,” Goodling said. “We do not believe in transactional relationships. We form partnerships, we form long-term friendships so that we can ask for the business back.”
Last week the arts center hosted TwitchCon, an event for fans of Twitch, a video platform and community for everything from video games and livestreams to Mr. Rogers marathons.
“All throughout our convention center all of the different breakout spaces were used,” Goodling said. “Convention centers are becoming old school, they’re looking for conference-style facilities. They’re looking for places to network.”
Goodling showed the council an animated video of how the proposed fountain would look.
“It’s these type of spaces that are unique and different and we’re beginning to be recognized for our innovation,” he said.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has requested for a fountain to be added at the Performing Arts Center for the last couple years, and voiced his approval of the idea.
“It’s going to transform that space to an active space all year round,” Garcia said. “It’s going to be a special space.”
The presentation also discussed the potential for a second Amazon headquarters and other sites to be built in Long Beach and Huntington Beach.
District five representative Stacy Mungo stated that she has been in contact with someone from Amazon, and read out loud a text she received from him.
“It’s so awesome I hope that we pick you, it’s not just the sunshine it’s the people and you guys go all in every time,” Mungo read.
Amazon has received 238 proposals, including one from the City of Long Beach, and is set to decide the location of its next headquarters sometime in 2018.
After the presentation, Long Beach resident Shirley Broussard had some concerns that there should be more focus on dedicating money to the homeless in Long Beach.
“What would the homeless say about that?” Broussard said. “There’s no such thing as a homeless person, there are homes that have not found those people.”
In response, councilmember Jeannine Pearce assured that money generated by tourism does in fact go to other areas that need funding.
“Funding the general fund is something that is really important and has allowed us to spend dollars on things like tackling the homeless challenge we have,” Pearce said.