San Francisco's tourism upswing creates economic optimism

July 4th has come and gone, but many of the visitors to San Francisco are still here. The tourism industry is saying while tourism isn't back to pre-pandemic levels it is on the upswing.

While no one likes waiting in long lines, the long line at the Powell Street cable car turnaround is a good sign for the city's tourism industry. A lot of families taking advantage of the summer holiday to travel, and they've chosen San Francisco. 

"We're here from Battery Park New York City, and I can't believe it. San Francisco is popping," said Norbiy Caulder from New York City. "We love it. This is a great place for tourism, we never imagined it. My son is the one who picked it out, and we're pleasantly surprised."

Joe D'Alessandro from Travel SF, says pre-pandemic, nearly two-thirds of the city's leisure visitors were from overseas, and while the city is not yet back at that level, the international travelers are returning. 

"We're about 70% occupied in our hotels right now typically we'd be at about 90% this time of year, so we still have some room for growth, but we are starting to get back," said D'Alessandro. "We're seeing out international visitors from Europe especially."

D'Alessandro says visits from Asia are still lagging with many Asian countries continuing to restrict travel due to COVID concerns, but travelers from Canada, Central America and Europe are back.

Sarah Foster and her family are from England. "Yeah, yeah, so we're on our summer holiday that we booked about a year ago, and we're starting in San Francisco traveling right down through California and then going to Las Vegas and then home from there," said Foster.

And like most visitors she says she's spending her money here. "We certainly are," said Foster. "Yeah, it seems quite expensive but, yeah, we're certainly spending lots of money here."

Some of that money going to support small businesses such as San Francisco Deluxe Hop On Hop Off where they say after a slow start to the year, they're starting to see more people hopping on and visiting San Francisco. "That's what I'm starting to see," said Kirk Chappell from SF Deluxe Hop On Hop Off. "We did have a lot of ships coming in but now, tourists are starting to come in from all over the world. It's getting busy again, it's going to be a good year!"

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Travel SF says the final piece of the puzzle is convention visitors.  Travel SF says June was a strong month for conventions, but next year is looking better.

Salesforce has announced recently that it would be returning to a large convention in September, up from the smaller convention that we saw last year.