San Francisco Travel Reports Record Breaking Tourism Outcomes for 2017, Gives Projections for 2018

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San Francisco Travel Reports Record Breaking Tourism Outcomes for 2017, Gives Projections for 2018

Total visitor volume hits 25.5 million, up 1.4 percent. Visitor spending exceeds $9.10 billion, up 1.4 percent.

Feb. 22, 2018 – The San Francisco Travel Association has released tourism figures for 2017 and issued projections for 2018.  The new data was announced today at San Francisco Travel’s Marketing Conference at the Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco.    

San Francisco Travel is reporting a total of 25.5 million visitors to the city in 2017 (with minor adjustments expected as final data is received), up 1.4 percent over 25.2 million in 2016.  Total spending by visitors was $9.10 billion, up 1.4 percent over $8.98 billion in 2016.  

“This is the eighth consecutive year that we are able to report record-breaking outcomes for San Francisco’s tourism industry.  The 25.5 million visitors and $9.10 billion in spending create jobs and support services for people throughout the city and the entire Bay Area,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel.  “We continue to see steady growth, especially from some of our international markets, led by China.” 

For 2018, San Francisco Travel is forecasting a total of 26.3 million visitors to the city, an increase of 3.0 percent.  Total spending by visitors in 2018 is projected to reach $9.46 billion, up 4.0 percent.

Average hotel occupancy rates were down 2.4 percent for 2017 and projected to be up 0.4 percent for 2018.  Average daily rates were $249.49 for 2017 and are expected to average $254.67 for 2018. 

Overall visitor spending was up 1.4 percent in 2017, to $9.1 billion.  Overnight visitor spending represented 86.7 percent of all visitor spending.  Overnight visitors made up 40.3 percent of the total, or 10.3 million people, and spent $7.89B.  This is an increase of 1.2 percent over $7.80 billion in 2016.  

Day visitors totaled 15.2 million or 59.7 percent of the total and spent $1.21 billion. This is an increase of 2.6 percent over $1.18B in 2016.   Day visitors accounted for 13.3 percent of all visitor spending in 2017.

International visitors comprised 28.1 percent of overnight visitors and 61.6 percent of all overnight visitor spending in 2017. 

San Francisco Travel welcomed 2.9 million international visitors in 2017, an increase of 0.4 percent over 2016.  

According to Joe D’Alessandro, San Francisco Travel president and CEO, this relatively slow grow was attributed to a variety of factors:

An historically high index for the U.S. dollar, increasing the cost of visiting the United States

The closure of Moscone North and South from April 8 to September 7, 2017, impacting convention and business travel

Uncertainty in the United Kingdom caused by Brexit

Negative perceptions of the United States caused by uncertain immigration and travel policies and messaging of the new administration

The top five markets for visitor volume in 2017 were Mexico, China, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany.  The fastest growing markets were South Korea, Italy, China and Canada.  The markets with the most declines in volume were the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia, France and Mexico.

For 2018, international visitor volume is expected to grow by 3.5 percent with India, Brazil, China, Germany and France all growing more than four percent and only South Korea expected to decline in volume.

International visitors spent $4.86 billion in 2017, up 1.3 percent from $4.80 billion in 2016.

China was the top spending market, with $1.59 billion.  India contributed $569 million in spending.  Other top spending international markets were the U.K. with $525 million, South Korea at $360 million and Taiwan at $336 million.

International markets with the most growth in spending were Mexico (up 12.7 percent), India (10 percent), Australia (9.9 percent), China (9.6 percent) and Brazil (8.8%).  Declining spending levels were seen in the Netherlands (down 7.7 percent), Japan (5.4 percent), Canada (3.8 percent) and Italy (2.3 percent). 

For 2018, no significant change in international spending is expected, though China should grow to 22.7 percent of the total.

According to the Visitor Study, visitor spending equated to $24.9 million daily or just over one million dollars per hour.

The number of jobs supported by tourism in San Francisco rose 1.9 percent to 81,747 jobs in 2017.

The tourism industry generated more than $714 million in taxes and fees for the City of San Francisco in 2017, down -1.5 percent from the previous year.  Major contributors to that figure include hotel tax (52 percent) and property tax (22.4 percent).

On a per capita basis, visitors spent $24,876.00 per San Francisco household.  Visitors generated $816.89 in taxes per San Francisco resident.

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit, read The San Francisco Traveler or call 415-391-2000.  

San Francisco Travel operates Visitor Information Centers at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market St. at the corner of Powell and Market streets, and on the lower level of Macy’s Union Square.  San Francisco Travel is also a partner at the California Welcome Center at PIER 39.  

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