The San Francisco Travel Association is a private, not-for-profit, 501(c) 6 organization. Membership includes approximately 1,500 partner businesses in and around the San Francisco Bay Area actively involved in the hospitality industry. The Board of Directors is comprised of 40 diverse business leaders from various companies elected by the membership. Board members serve two-year terms. The President and CEO of San Francisco Travel is Joe D'Alessandro.
To ensure that San Francisco is the most compelling destination in the world.
To enhance the local economy by marketing San Francisco and the Bay Area as the premier destination for conventions, meetings, events and leisure travel.
San Francisco's official visitors’ promotion agency was founded in November 1909 in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fire. It was originally incorporated as the San Francisco Convention & Tourist League.
During its first year the new League generated 27 conventions with a total attendance of 30,000 bringing in $1,200,000 in revenue to the City.
Twelve years later, in 1921, the organization changed its name to San Francisco Convention & Tourist Bureau; in 1952 "Tourist" was replaced by "Visitors." In 2009-10 the SFCVB celebrated its centennial.
As part of a significant organizational change, the SFCVB’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to change the name of the organization to the San Francisco Travel Association, effective Jan. 11, 2011.
The new name was one outcome of the association’s year-long Centennial Project, designed to prepare the organization to best meet the challenges of the next 100 years. Although the organization’s name is officially the San Francisco Travel Association, it is branded primarily as San Francisco Travel (not SFTA).
In 2003, San Francisco Travel established a 501(c)3 foundation to raise scholarship funds for students enrolled in local hospitality management programs and to produce educational programs.
In fiscal year 2012-2013 (July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013) the San Francisco Travel budget is $29.5 million. Public monies provide 71 percent of the budget; 29 percent is private funding.
San Francisco Tourism Improvement District (TID)
In 2008 hotel owners and operators approved a Tourism Improvement District. The Board of Supervisors passed legislation approving the implementation of the TID without opposition on Dec. 16, 2008. Based on proximity to the city's main tourism infrastructure, hotels are divided into two zones. Hotels in Zone 1 are assessed 1.5 percent on gross revenue from tourist rooms; hotels in Zone 2 are assessed 1 percent. Approximately two-thirds of the TID assessment is allocated to hotel-specific San Francisco Travel marketing and sales programs; approximately one-third is allocated to the renovation and upgrade of Moscone Center as well as the exploration of a possible expansion of Moscone Center. The assessment became effective on Jan. 1, 2009. Additional information on the Tourism Improvement District may be found at http://www.sftid.com/.
The San Francisco Travel Association has 84 fulltime employees and 15 part-time staff members. Regional convention sales offices are located in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, IL. San Francisco Travel also has representation in Germany, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Japan, China, Korea, India, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Canada to work with the international travel industry.
The San Francisco Travel Association has popularized many slogans and catch phrases throughout its history. The '70s and '80s were closely linked to the phrase, "Everybody's Favorite City." In 2004 San Francisco Travel introduced its "Only in San Francisco" campaign. In 2014, the theme became “Never the same. Always San Francisco.”
Silver Cable Car and Other Awards
The Silver Cable Car award is presented annually at San Francisco Travel’s annual luncheon to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to San Francisco's visitor industry. The award was inaugurated in 1965; the awardees include Herb Caen, Willie Mays, the San Francisco 49ers, Beach Blanket Babylon, Dianne Feinstein and the San Francisco Giants. In 2010 the Crystal Bridge Award was inaugurated to honor major convention customers that bring outstanding events with significant impact to the city; the first recipient was Oracle.
Awards and Honors
Cited for its significant contribution to the local economy and the formation of the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District in 2008, the San Francisco Travel Association received an Ebbie (Excellence in Business) Economic Development Award from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce in October 2009. San Francisco Travel has received the "Gold Service Award" from Meetings & Conventions magazine 23 times; the Pinnacle Award from Successful Meetings magazine 20 times; an "Award of Excellence" from Corporate & Incentive Travel magazine and "Distinctive Achievement Award" from Association Conventions & Facilities magazine.
The administrative offices of San Francisco Travel are located at:
One Front Street, Suite 2900
San Francisco, CA 94111
In May 2014, the offices will move to One Front St., Suite 2900, San Francisco, CA 94111. Phone numbers and email addresses will remain the same.
Visitor Information Center
San Francisco Travel also operates a Visitor Information Center at Hallidie Plaza:
900 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends and holiday; closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Sundays November-April.
Visitors Industry Statistics (2013)
Tourism is one of San Francisco's major industries. In a 2012 survey of residents, 98% said tourism was very important or important to the City.
San Francisco welcomed 16.9 million visitors in 2013, an increase of 2.3 percent from 2012. These visitors spent $9.38 billion in 2013, up 5.1 percent from the previous year. The tourism industry generated $607 million in taxes for the City of San Francisco, up 8.1 percent from the previous year. The number of jobs supported by tourism rose 3.8 percent to 76,834 jobs in 2013, with an annual payroll of $2.31 billion, an increase of 5.7 percent.
In 2013, there was an average of 134,231 visitors in San Francisco each day. Visitor spending equated to $25.7 million daily (including spending related to meetings and conventions).
In FY 2010-11 the San Francisco Travel Association’s Visitor Information Center welcomed 356,180 walk-in visitors.
Website and Social Media Statistics (FY 2013-2014)
In the fiscal year 2013-2014 (July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014) San Francisco Travel’s website (www.sanfrancisco.travel) drew more than 5.3 million users.