San Francisco Tourism Breaks Records

Travelers are heading to San Francisco in droves. A new report from the San Francisco Travel Association found that 2018 was a record-breaking year for the city.

San Francisco Travel is reporting a total of 25.8 million visitors to the city in 2018, which is up 1.2 percent more than 25.5 million in 2017. Spending was also up. Total spending by visitors was $10 billion, up 2.3 percent over $9.8 billion in 2017 (including spending on meetings and conventions).

“This is the ninth consecutive year that we are able to report record-breaking outcomes for San Francisco’s tourism industry. The 25.8 million visitors and $10 billion in spending created 82,538 jobs and supported services for people throughout the city and the entire Bay Area,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed noted that San Francisco continues to draw people from around the world.

“These visitors explore our neighborhoods, shop at our small businesses, enjoy our restaurants, and help support our local economy,” said Breed. “I am committed to working every day to make our City a better place for everyone, whether they live here or are visiting from the other side of the world.”

Visitor numbers, while impressive, were overshadowed by visitor spending.

“While visitor growth last year was modest, we saw a larger increase in visitor spending. We are optimistic for the rest of 2019 and currently have more room nights on the books than ever before, thanks to the recently expanded Moscone Center,” D’Alessandro said. “In the year ahead, we are looking forward to continued growth in convention bookings, and we are preparing for a complete brand refresh, to be rolled out at our Annual Luncheon on June 27, which will help us stand out around the world.”

There were many components that played into San Francisco’s continuing tourism boom. The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) also had a record-breaking year, serving a total of 57.8 million passengers.

While average hotel occupancy was down slightly, to 82.2 percent, average daily rates were $264.53, up by 6.2 percent. The loss in occupancy was attributed to the construction of the $551 million expansion to the Moscone Center that was completed in January 2019. The center was closed while construction took place.

Average hotel occupancy is projected to be 83.2 percent, a 1.2 percent gain for 2019. Average daily rates are forecast to reach $276.66 for 2019, an increase of 4.6 percent.

San Francisco continues to focus on international visitors, which comprise 28 percent of overnight visitors, and 61 percent of all overnight visitor spending in 2018. Last year alone, the city welcomed 2.9 million international visitors, almost the same number that visited in 2017 and they come from around the globe, including China, South Korea, Brazil, India and Canada.

This year, San Francisco Travel is forecasting 26.5 million visitors will travel to the city, an increase of 2.5 percent. Total visitor spending is projected to reach $10.3 billion, up 3.4 percent, including spending related to meetings and conventions.

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