Apr 1, 2024 - News

San Francisco's tourism industry is slowly recovering

Data: San Francisco Travel Association; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: San Francisco Travel Association; Chart: Axios Visuals

San Francisco's tourism industry is trending in the right direction, but it's still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels.

Why it matters: San Francisco is facing a looming budget deficit over the next few years, and tourism is key to helping boost the city's revenues, which have suffered since the pandemic.

By the numbers: Last year, San Francisco had 23.1 million visitors, a 5.2% increase from 2022, according to the San Francisco Travel Association.

  • Those visitors spent $8.8 billion, an 18% year-over-year increase.
  • Tourism ultimately generated nearly $610 million in tax revenue for the city in 2023, compared with $522 million in 2022.

Zoom in: SF Travel points to big events like Dreamforce and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit as major contributors to the city's tourism.

  • "Attracting more conventions and events to the city is a key focus for SF Travel given their citywide impact on San Francisco's economy," SF Travel president Scott Beck said in a press release.

Yes, but: Visitor volume and spending still have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels of 26.2 million visitors and $9.6 billion in spending.

  • SF Travel does not expect visitor spending and visitor volume to surpass pre-pandemic levels until 2025 and 2026, respectively.

Between the lines: San Francisco is "plagued by perception," Lori Lincoln, spokesperson for SF Travel, told SFGATE.

The bottom line: Between tourism trending back upward and an uptick in population since 2022, San Francisco is showing signs of life.

  • As Ted Egan, the city's chief economist, told Axios last week, San Francisco is "on track."

What's next: This year, SF Travel expects visitor volume to reach 23.7 million and for those visitors to spend $9.45 billion.

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