SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco is home to 215 hotels and 33,642 hotel rooms. But it's still not enough to house the record number of visitors that have been coming to the city in recent years.
" was an amazing year for San Francisco, at historic levels that we've never seen before," SF Travel Association President Joe D'Allesandro told KTVU.
"We had over 18 million visitors, an all-time record for San Francisco. We had spending of almost $11 billion, up double digits from the year before."
The skyrocketing tourist trade is forcing convention groups to get creative to find in-town accommodations.
Salesforce's 2014 San Francisco Dreamforce convention attracted more than 125,000 attendees. This year, the company has chartered a luxury cruise ship - the "Dream Boat" - to shelter visitors for four nights at Pier 27. Prices range from $250 a night for a windowless room to $850 per night for a top-of-the-line suite.
In a statement, Saleforce Chief Marketing Officer Lynn Vojvodich said, "The Dream Boat offers a new housing option for Dreamforce attendees when hotel space is at a premium in San Francisco."
"People stay wherever they can stay because it's such a big event that comes in. And it's incredible for this city," said Hotel Council of San Francisco Executive Director Kevin Carroll.
The city is set to only add about 800 new rooms over the next three to four years in small, boutique-style hotels. "San Francisco's one of the most expensive cities in the United States to build and operate a hotel," said D'Allesandro. "So our rates are still not high enough to allow for a big hotel to be built."
D'Allesandro said services such as AirBnb and hotels in the East Bay and South Bay are providing a lot of rooms for visitors who are unable to stay in the city.
International tourism, in particular, is on the rise with the Chinese visitor market expected to grow 20 percent in the next three years.
"We saw the development of a lot of new air service into San Francisco last year, international air service in particular," said D'Allesandro. "For example, for those people who stay overnight in our hotels, almost 40 percent of those are international visitors."