The San Francisco Travel Association joined Mayor London N. Breed and San Francisco International Airport on the first tourism mission to Europe since 2019 to promote travel to the San Francisco Bay Area and accelerate the city’s tourism recovery.
The San Francisco delegation visited London, Brussels, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Paris from March 16 to 25 to meet with European airlines, airports, tour operators, travel agencies, and consumer and trade media to support reinstated airlift, bring new flights to the city, and promote San Francisco’s iconic sights, new outdoor experiences, diverse neighborhoods, cultural attractions, and hotels.
In addition to individual meetings with travel partners and media, three VIP events were held in London, Frankfurt, and Paris. Giants Enterprises and Nikko Hotels International and Hotel Nikko San Francisco were cosponsors of the mission, with Stephen Revetria, president of Giants Enterprises, and Anna Marie Presutti, vice president/general manager of Nikko Hotels International/Hotel Nikko San Francisco, joining the delegation.
“European travelers are expected to lead our overseas international visitor recovery this year,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel. “It was critically important for the delegation to strengthen connections with travel partners and inspire travel to San Francisco by sharing what is new and exciting. Europeans are making their travel plans now for 2022 and 2023, and it’s imperative that we’re a first mover in this market given the global competition for tourists.”
Tourism is San Francisco’s leading industry, but it has been slower to recover because of its disproportionately large reliance on international travelers, meetings, and business travel. International travelers represented 28% of all overnight visitors to the city pre-Covid but accounted for over 60% of overnight visitor spending.
Last year, international arrivals to San Francisco were negatively impacted by the global travel ban in effect until November and the delta and omicron variants. International arrivals were down 84% from the record 2.9 million arrivals in 2019.
The U.K., Germany, and France are the city’s primary European markets as historically they generated the most arrivals. In 2022, the city expects to receive more than 330,000 visitors from the U.K., Germany, and France, with combined spending projected to be $615 million, up from $65 million last year. This is still below the $1.4 billion generated by those markets in 2019.
“Potential visitors are now clear that not only is San Francisco open and ready to welcome visitors, but it’s a better time than ever to visit,” said San Francisco Travel Chief Tourism Officer Hubertus Funke. “It was important to be the first major city to visit Europe with our mayor, San Francisco’s best ambassador. We demonstrated our commitment to those markets and sparked excitement about visiting the Bay Area. Feedback at our meetings and events was very encouraging, as clients responded positively to learning about all that San Francisco has to offer right now.”
Seeking to direct some of the millions of dollars in expiring travel credits held by Europeans to San Francisco and capitalize on pent-up demand for travel and the global trend for outdoors-oriented vacations, the delegation showcased the city’s expanded outdoor offerings, festivals, and events as well as new attractions.
Mayor Breed and the delegation highlighted the city’s iconic views and experiences along with its vibrant outdoor dining scene and culinary offerings, park attractions such as Presidio Tunnel Tops (opening this summer) and Francisco Park (opening this spring), the diversity of neighborhoods, expanded bikeway miles, nearly 300 miles of pathways and walking trails, and San Francisco’s position as the gateway to Northern California.
Mayor Breed said, “As we emerge from this pandemic, we are going to do everything we can to build connections and get people excited about San Francisco. There is a magic to our city that draws people from all over the world, but we are not alone in competing for these visitors. We have to keep working to bring them here and not take anything for granted. San Francisco’s tourism mission was an important initiative to attract more European visitors to the city, which is essential for supporting our small businesses, creating jobs, restoring vibrancy, and driving our economic recovery.”
About San Francisco Travel
The San Francisco Travel Association is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. Tourism is San Francisco's largest industry. More than 25.8 million people visited the destination in 2019, spending in excess of $10 billion. More than 86,000 jobs are supported by tourism in San Francisco.
San Francisco is one of the metropolitan areas in the U.S. that has consistently kept Covid-19 largely under control. The COVID-19 Prevention & Enhanced Cleaning Guidelines put forth by the Hotel Council of San Francisco ensure that the city's hospitality businesses are adhering to the most elaborate cleaning and safety protocols. San Francisco Travel invites all visitors who are planning to come in 2022 to contribute their part to a safe and enjoyable experience by taking its Safe Travel Pledge.
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About San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) wants you to Travel Well. SFO works with local, state and federal health officials to protect against COVID-19. Measures include enhanced cleaning protocols, hundreds of hand sanitizer stations, physical barriers, face coverings for everyone and physical distancing. To learn more, visit flysfo.com/travel-well.
SFO offers nonstop service to Asia, South Pacific, Europe, Canada, Mexico and across the United States. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit www.flysfo.com. Follow us on www.twitter.com/flysfo and www.facebook.com/flysfo.
United Airlines is the preferred airline of the San Francisco Travel Association.
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