SAN FRANCISCO, CA. - Despite a 16% decrease in tourism from 2019, San Francisco is seeing an increase in visitors, according to recent data from the San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA). However, the city is still a long way from the pre-pandemic levels of tourism that brought in a record-breaking 26.2 million people in 2019.
In 2021, 17 million people visited San Francisco; in 2018, the city saw a peak of 21.9 million visitors. This growth was primarily fueled by international leisure travelers and corporate events, such as the 33 conferences held at Moscone Center, according to Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of SFTA.
While the increase in tourism is a positive sign for the city's economy, downtown San Francisco is still struggling to recover from the effects of office and business closures caused by the pandemic. According to a study by the School of Cities at the University of Toronto, San Francisco's downtown recovery is the slowest of the 62 largest cities in the United States and Canada.
The city's revenues, which have been hit hard by the pandemic, can be helped by tourism. The annual visitor spending in San Francisco increased to $7.4 billion from nearly $3.6 billion in 2021. The city received $522 million in taxes and other fees from tourism last year, up from $257 million the previous year.
D'Alessandro is optimistic that San Francisco will continue to see an increase in international visitation and spending with the return of flight routes from Asian cities and the relaxation of pandemic restrictions such as testing requirements. However, the number of nonstop flights from San Francisco International Airport to mainland China has decreased significantly since 2019, with only four flights per week currently available.
While San Francisco slowly sees increased tourism, it is still far from the levels before the pandemic. In addition, the city's downtown area is struggling to recover from the pandemic's impact, and it may take some time for the city to recover fully. Nevertheless, the increase in tourism is a positive sign for the city's economy, and San Francisco officials hope the city's recovery will continue to gain momentum.
What do you think are some of the critical factors that are hindering San Francisco's downtown recovery, and how do you believe the city can address these challenges while also increasing tourism to pre-pandemic levels? Share your thoughts in the comments, and if you found this article worth reading, show some love and buy me a coffee. It will be greatly appreciated and might even prevent me from falling asleep on my keyboard.
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