San Francisco Tourism Spending Climbs 13.7 Percent

April 1, 2015
Golden Gate Bridge

Bolstered by international tourists, San Francisco saw a record number of visitors and the amount of money spent by those visitors in 2014.

San Francisco Travel Association reported this week that the city drew 18.01 million tourists in 2014 for an increase of 6.5 percent from 2013. The influx of visitors resulted in $10.67 billion in spending, marking a 13.7 percent rise from the previous year. 

“The growth of San Francisco’s visitor industry continued to break records in 2014,” said Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel.  “Both visitor spending and the total number of visitors have reached the highest levels ever.”

Reinforcing the impact of tourism on employment, the report noted that the number of jobs supported by tourism rose 13.2 percent to 87,005 jobs in 2014. Last year, there was an average of 150,412 visitors in San Francisco each day.

San Francisco continues to be a popular destination for conventions. San Francisco Travel has booked 41 conventions at Moscone Center through 2029, resulting in a projected 939,115 hotel room nights and an estimated $679,172,475 in spending.

Just this week, it was reported that the annual Dreamforce convention staged by San Francisco-based Salesforce has become so popular, maxing out hotel room availability, that the company has chartered a luxury cruise ship to provide additional lodging during its 2015 event in September. The 2014 convention had 135,000 registered attendees. The cruise ship will be docked on the San Francisco waterfront at Pier 27.

“While domestic leisure, business and convention travel continue to expand, most of the industry's growth in recent years has been in the international sector,” D’Alessandro said. “Since 2009, international visitor spending in San Francisco has grown 71 percent.  In the same time frame, domestic spending grew 25 percent. We estimate that San Francisco had 4.1 million international visitors in 2014, about 31 percent of our visitors from outside the Bay Area (or 22.8 percent of all visitors).  They spent $3.4 billion, or 34 percent of the total spent by all visitors.”

The Chinese visitor market is expected to grow by 20 percent in the next three years.  San Francisco recently launched websites in traditional and simplified Chinese in partnership with Brand USA.  

To read more about the San Francisco Bay Area, see the April issue Smart Meetings magazine.

Our April issue also includes an in-depth Q&A with Joe D'Alessandro, San Francisco Travel president and CEO.

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