San Francisco tourism suffers ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

The city by the Bay is a global tourist destination, but the global pandemic and travel restrictions have effectively cut the city off from the outside world.

San Francisco's hotel industry is feeling the pinch, ordinarily for Memorial Day weekend they'd expect about 85% occupancy.

"Which means 85% of our rooms would be filled. Right now, many of our hotels, the majority of them are not open," said Kevin Carroll from The Hotel Council of San Francisco. "But if a hotel is open, they're probably seeing occupancy of in the 5% to 10%, and that's probably mostly first responders."

About half of the city's 25,000 hotel workers live outside of San Francisco, so the effects are having a region-wide impact.

"So if you're living outside of the city, you're working in the city, but you're spending money where you live, if our business is off the ripple effect, to your point, goes across the Bay Area," said Carroll.

The hotel industry says at this point the date for when hotels will reopen to the public is still up in the air.

The industry has a Clean and Safe Task Force so that when that date is finally pinned down the hotels will be ready, but it will take time before visitors return the way they once did.

"Even when we're open, it's going to be a slower recovery," said Carroll.

It's not just the hotel industry feeling the economic fallout. Randall Scott from the Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District says riding out the pandemic has been rough.

"The hospitality industry has been decimated, you know," said Scott. "Because when you shut down travel you shut down the hospitality industry."

Scott says more than 60 businesses are currently open on the water front, and while it may take longer for international tourism and even national tourism to return, he's hoping locals choose to spend their Memorial Day weekend discovering, or rediscovering all that the city has to offer.

"You can walk along the sidewalk, grab your meal at Cioppino's, walk over to aquatic park and enjoy the meal outside," said Scott. "A meal outdoors, it doesn't get any more San Francisco than that."

The Hotel Council and other tourist oriented organizations are saying they believe there is a pent up demand for travel. They're hoping that once the shelter-in-place orders are lifted, visitors from around the Bay Area will be among the first to come stay in the hotels and enjoy the city.