Travel-related businesses in San Francisco are hoping to put their
recent misfortunes in the past by rolling out promotions for the
fall and winter months designed to pack the cable cars with
tourists once again.
“We’re coming off 18 really lousy months,” said Laurie
Armstrong, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Convention &
Visitors Bureau, at a recent breakfast event showcasing the city’s
plans for the holiday season.
Armstrong said the city’s woes began in early 2001, with the
state’s energy crisis and the dot-com collapse taking their toll on
tourism. Sept. 11 and a lack of confidence in the stock market only
made matters worse.
Recent statistics illustrate Armstrong’s observations. In June,
about 3 million passengers arrived or departed from San Francisco
International Airport, down 14% from the same month in 2001. And
the city’s hotel occupancy from January through June came in at
62.4%, compared with 72.6% for the first six months of last
Since early last year, the city has seen a mixed bag of overseas
arrivals. The U.K. inbound market remains strong, while Asia is
down considerably. And because 80% of visitors to San Francisco
arrive by air, Armstrong noted, the SFCVB changed its marketing
focus to regional travelers within 10 hours’ driving time of San
Armstrong said that the city’s convention business remains
strong and will get a boost when a new wing of the Moscone Center
opens next year, and she remains confident that leisure travel will
bounce back, though it may take longer.
“It’s going to come back slowly,” Armstrong said of leisure
business. “There will be setbacks along the way ... but this
[downturn] has made us better marketers.”
In their efforts to jump-start the leisure comeback, several San
Francisco hotels and attractions unveiled promotions and new
developments set for the fall and the winter holidays. Among
"The Argent Hotel’s Holiday Shopping package includes free
parking at the hotel and free town-car service to and from the
city’s top shopping areas for $159 per night, weekends only. Web
"The San Francisco Ferry Building, located at the base of Market
Street on the Embarcadero, will reopen March 21 with a ground-floor
market and culinary center featuring nearly 50 shops, two
restaurants and two cafes. Web site: www.sfport.com.
"Macy’s annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony returns to the
newly redesigned Union Square on Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. The same day,
Macy’s unveils its famous holiday windows, along the store’s
Stockton and O’Farrell street facades.