Business leaders celebrate the arrival of a new Starline Tours service that will shuttle tourists from LAX-area hotels to Santa Monica. (Kevin Herrera kevinh@smdp.com)

Business leaders celebrate the arrival of a new Starline Tours service that will shuttle tourists from LAX-area hotels to Santa Monica. (Kevin Herrera kevinh@smdp.com)

DOWNTOWN — A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Thursday launching Starline Tours’ recently expanded CitySightseeing service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) area hotels to Santa Monica via Fisherman’s Village made possible by a partnership with Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. and Santa Monica Place.

Representatives from Starline Tours, Santa Monica Place, Downtown Santa Monica, the city of Santa Monica, Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau (SMCVB) came together on Second Street in Downtown as the “first bus” arrived.

“Seventy percent of Santa Monica hotel visitors never use a car while they are here and we are continually working to increase visitor spending while reducing impact to the local community,” said Misti Kerns, SMCVB CEO/president. “These new routes provide visitors a convenient connection from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) area hotels to the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place, allowing them to access and explore Santa Monica car-free.”

With shopping and dining at the top of visitor itineraries, partnering with Starline Tours’ Hop on, Hop off service was a key strategic move for Downtown Santa Monica to attract a larger share of visitors, business leaders said. Riders are invited to present a voucher at the Santa Monica Place Concierge desk located in Center Plaza (level 1), to receive a complimentary Visitor Rewards Book with over $1,000 in savings when shopping and dining in Downtown Santa Monica.

“We are thrilled to be part of this initiative. Delivering guests to the heart of Downtown Santa Monica via Starline Tours Hop-on, Hop-off invites visitors and locals to enjoy our pedestrian-friendly shopping, al fresco dining and endless entertainment experiences without ever needing a car,” said Kathleen Rawson, CEO Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.

In 2012, 57 percent of Santa Monica visitors came from outside the U.S.  The Santa Monica Tourism Economic Impact Study consistently shows that international visitors tend to stay in the destination longer, use public transportation and spend more money while they are here.

editor@smdp.com