San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Mayor London Breed unveils plan to support the return of conventions to the city

Ed Walsh

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San Francisco's Moscone Convention CenterEd Walsh

The tourism and convention business is the largest industry in San Francisco generating what the city estimates is $10 billion in revenue annually. Tourists are returning to the city in greater numbers but conventions lagging in large part because of the time it takes businesses to plan conventions.

The tourism and convention business is the largest industry in San Francisco generating what the city estimates is $10 billion in revenue annually. Tourists are returning to the city in greater numbers but conventions lagging in large part because of the time it takes businesses to plan conventions.

The city says those $4.6 in funds will be used to reduce the cost of renting space at Moscone Center, San Francisco’s convention center, and are intended to attract conventions, conferences, trade shows, and other large events back to San Francisco.

“Conventions and conferences help support our downtown’s economy and tourism industry, and we’re so excited to welcome these events and their attendees back to our city,” said Mayor Breed. “Tourism and convention dollars help pay for important City services and allow us to take care of our most vulnerable residents. We’re making it even easier for organizers to host their next event in San Francisco, because bringing these activities will bring life and energy back to our downtown area and help our entire city recover.”

“San Francisco is a dynamic and remarkable City to visit and a strong convention lineup helps anchor our tourism industry, supporting local businesses, hospitality and the entertainment industry,” said City Administrator Carmen Chu, who also served as co-chair for the City’s Economic Recovery Task Force. “Our center is ready to welcome visitors back with enhanced operating protocols and this funding only strengthens our position in the competitive national market for convention business.”

“Group convention business at Moscone Center fuels our economy, provides much needed tax revenues to the city and good jobs,” said Joe D’Alessandro, President and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association. “The convention market is highly competitive, and this Moscone Convention funding is essential in helping us attract group business and remain relevant in the aggressive convention market.”

San Francisco reports that it hosted more than 1,600 conventions and meetings in 2019, but that number dropped to a total of 29 conventions since April 2020.

“Bringing back conventions, meetings and hotel room nights are critical to our economic health and future sustainability and viability,” said Kevin Carroll, President & CEO of the Hotel Council of San Francisco. “Full hotels mean full restaurants and mean a full recovery for San Francisco. Full hotels mean more work not only for hospitality employees but for the tens of thousands of jobs and small businesses they support.”

The city noted that convention traffic brings hotel reservations, customers to restaurants and bars and arts venues, and business to local shops and entertainment venues. Based on the number of conventions currently considering San Francisco as a destination, San Francisco expects the Moscone Convention funding will return approximately 140,000 to 150,000 room nights for San Francisco. The city estimates that would generate almost $173 million in direct convention spending and almost $5 million in Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). The TOT tax, generated from each room night booked at a San Francisco hotel, goes into the City’s General Fund to provide essential City services.

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