Learn about the incredible impact that tourism has on San Francisco and the Bay Area.

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June 10, 2019

The Value of Tourism

Did you know that tourism is the #1 industry in San Francisco? Between tax revenue, jobs created, and profits to local businesses, there's no denying that without tourism, San Francisco would be a very different place. Keep reading to learn more about all the ways tourism makes our city a better place to live.

The Value of Tourism

In 2018, San Francisco welcomed a record-breaking 25.8 million visitors who spent $10 billion in our city. The tourism industry generated $771 million in taxes and fees for the City of San Francisco in 2018 from contributors, including the hotel tax and property tax.

The average visitor spent $360.17 per day. Convention attendees spent an average of $567.25 per day. On a per capita basis, visitors spent $10,534 per San Francisco resident.Visitors generated $2,089 in taxes per San Francisco household.

For 2019, San Francisco Travel is forecasting a total of 26.5 million visitors to the city, an increase of 2.5 percent.  Total spending by visitors in 2019 is projected to reach $10.3 billion, up 3.4 percent, including spending related to meetings and conventions. 

San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) also had a record breaking year in 2018.SFO served a total of 57.8 million passengers.  Passenger enplanements increased by 3.1 percent overall, with a 2.2 percent growth in the domestic sector and a 6 percent increase in the international sector. 

International Visitor Volume and Spend

The San Francisco Travel Association has a global footprint, with representation in 13 international markets and integrated sales efforts and digital marketing programs in key locations, such as China.

The top five markets for visitor volume in 2018 were Mexico, China, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany.The fastest growing international markets were Brazil, France, India, and Taiwan.

For 2019, international visitor volume is expected to grow by 3 percent with growth expected from China, South Korea, Brazil, India, and Canada.

International visitors spent $4.9 billion in 2018, up 2 percent from $4.8 billion in 2017. 

The Resident’s Perspective

San Francisco locals have an overwhelmingly positive perspective on the value of tourism.

    • 93% of residents agree that tourism is important to the City’s economy.
    • 88% feel tourism is very important or important to the City’s budget.
    • 87% feel proud to show San Francisco to visiting friends and relatives.
    • 68% believe it is important for their district supervisor supports tourism.
    • 74% believe tourism makes San Francisco a better place to live.


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