San Francisco tourism expected to fully recover in 2025

Eloise Hanson Eloise Hanson Uploaded 13 August 2020

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US: According to research by San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA), the number of visitors to the city is expected to contract by over 50 per cent with a predicted $10.7 billion loss in visitor spending for 2020 and 2021.

For the first time in 10 years, the SFTA is forecasting a significant drop in visitor volume and spending for 2020. A full recovery is expected in 2025.

Compared to 2019 figures, the volume of visitors to the city is projected to shrink by 53.1 per cent to 12.9 million. Gradual improvement will be driven by domestic visitation, with volume expected to recover to 18.4 million for 2021.

Total spending is said to reach $3.1 billion, down 67.4 per cent from 2019. This amount is expected to improve to $5.5 billion for 2021.

Looking at the entire region (the Peninsula, East Bay, Marin, San Mateo County and wine country), visitor growth is expected to slow by 52.4 per cent in 2020 (an estimated 27.5 million tourists). Forecast for 2021 shows growth improve to 40.8 million visitors - a 29 per cent reduction compared to 2019.

Business travel and conference room nights booked has dropped significantly. 2019 was a record year for room nights booked at 1.2 million. 2020 is expected to close on 122,000 nights, with cancellations representing a loss in direct spending of over $697 million. SFTA anticipates normal operations to return in the latter part of 2021, and only if a vaccine is available.

Traditionally, the international markets such as China, the UK, Australia, India and Germany have accounted for a much higher percentage of visitor spending in San Francisco. Spending projections for 2021 are expected to be down by 51 per cent compared to 2019.

International visitor volume, mainly from Mexico, China, the UK, Canada and France, is forecasted to level at 1.6 million in 2021 - down 46 per cent compared to 2019. International recovery is expected to be led by Mexico and Canada.

Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel, said: “The evolving coronavirus situation makes 2020 a difficult year to project. COVID-19 has affected every sector across the globe, and the hospitality industry is among the hardest hit. Our research suggests that recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until 2025.”

Jon Kimball, area general manager for Marriott International and current San Francisco Travel board chair, added: “If nothing else, this crisis has demonstrated the importance of connections and community. We've seen businesses working together, working with the city, and working across neighbourhoods and even regions to find new ways to keep doors open, keep staff employed, and keep servicing customers.”

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