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LOS ANGELES-The LA Convention and Visitors Bureau here has announced plans to lay off about 12% of its staff and to make other cutbacks, raising fears that the region’s troubled hotel and tourism industry will take even longer to recover.

The LACVB recently said it was facing a budget shortfall of about $5 million this year, largely because the city’s hotel bed-tax revenue—which generates most of the bureau’s operating funds—has dropped sharply. Hotels began hurting as the economy weakened earlier this year, and their problems were exacerbated by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The bureau furloughed 13 staffers yesterday. It also says its remaining 92 workers will take pay cuts as large as 20%.

The LACVB has played a key role in bringing more tourists and lucrative conventions to the city, which in turn has helped to boost occupancy at hotels across the county. Though some local hotel owners worry that the agency’s cutbacks will hurt their recovery efforts, a convention center spokesperson says the expected budget shortfall made it impossible to avoid a staff reduction.

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