LONG BEACH, CA-The Long Beach convention bureau apparently overstated room bookings in its latest fiscal year by as much as 10%, according to preliminary findings of an audit by an outside accounting firm.

Several commercial developers are planning hotels or other types of projects near the convention center, which is in the heart of Downtown Long Beach. Their optimism has been fueled by the impressive numbers that the Long Beach Area Visitors and Convention Bureau has been reporting.

However, convention bureau officials began questioning their own numbers earlier this year after reviewing sales figures for their 1998-99 fiscal year. They then hired the accounting firm on Ernst & Young to conduct an independent audit.

Preliminary results of the audit, released Thursday, say that the original report of 384,000 room bookings may have been over-exaggerated by as many as 40,000 rooms. The inflated figures apparently allowed 10 sales people to collect $23,000 in unwarranted bonuses, the audit says.

Ernst & Young’s final report is expected to be released next week.

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