SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco's top tourism draw is officially open and welcoming visitors back to Pier 39. The pier is open with some changes to make it safe in the age of coronavirus.
The hope is that local and regional visitors can re-ignite the city's tourism industry. The pier is hoping it's mix of outdoor activities and outdoor dining will be a winning combination to bring visitors from around the bay area and beyond.
The Romo family drove in from Sacramento to visit the pier. "It was very welcoming when we came up in here," said Rich Romo. "Everyone welcomed us here, and said 'welcome back, welcome back.'"
The city's most visited tourist destination says a safe re-opening is their top priority. That begins with limiting the number of visitors allowed in. "We are going to be requiring masking for visitors over 13 years of age throughout the property," said Pier 39 CEO Taylor Safford. "We're also cleaning the high touch areas throughout the property, throughout the day with CDC guideline recommended procedures."
Nearby Fisherman's Wharf is also hoping regional tourism picks up, with local visitors taking advantage of a world class destination in their backyard. "They're always saying, 'the tourists, the tourists.' Well guess what locals, the tourists are all gone, it's all yours now," said Randall Scott from the Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District. "It's all yours, it belongs to San Francisco, let's use it."
SF Travel says the importance of the city's hospitality industry cannot be overstated, bringing in $11 billion a year, and $800 million in taxes. The pandemic has devastated the industry. SF Travel says they key going forward is a steady recovery, not having to open, close and reopen. "It's very important that we start slowly to reopen San Francisco in a safe way, we are totally supportive of the efforts to make sure the experience is positive, the experience is safe," said Joe D'Alessandro from SF Travel.
The Chamber of Commerce said bringing local visitors out is a good first step. "So, Pier 39 reopening is great. I think this is a great summer for drive vacations, people coming into San Francisco," said David Perry from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "But unless they have a place to stay, you know, it's challenging."
The next step toward getting the city's hospitality industry back on track would be reopening the city's hotels allowing visitors to stay for more than a day trip, the latest timeline on that is sometime in mid-August.