SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – After a significant downturn amid COVID-19 lockdowns and high anxiety over crime, tourism to the City by the Bay and the surrounding counties is finally rebounding, according to the San Francisco Travel Association.

Hotel occupancy in San Francisco is projected to increase by 67% over last year’s numbers, with 21.5 million visitors expected by the end of this year compared to 17 million in 2021, a 26.5% increase.

Still, a full rebound to pre-pandemic levels is not expected till 2025. Visitor spending, up 89.2% in 2022 over the prior year’s levels, to $6.7 million, is still down 30.2% compared to 2019, when the city had $9.2 billion in visitor spending and 26.2 million visitors.

“We are clearly on the road to recovery, but we still have a way to go before we will reach pre-pandemic tourism levels,” Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the association, stated in a press release. “San Francisco will not see a full recovery until travelers from Asia return and business travel and group business increases.”

International travel is down 50% compared to 2019, the association stated, though COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully-vaccinated international travelers ended in November.

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“One of our key priorities is driving increased international visitation as this segment stays the longest and spends the most,” D’Alessandro stated. “We are pleased to see an increased number of visitors from countries we’ve focused our marketing efforts on this year given ongoing travel restrictions in parts of Asia.”

International visits are strong from:

  • Australia (up 798%)
  • the United Kingdom (up 666%)
  • Canada (up 499%)
  • France (up 412%)
  • Germany (up 226%)
  • India (up 142%), and
  • Mexico (up 51%).

Further, the American states with the most visitors to San Francisco are:

  • Texas
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Washington, and
  • Illinois.

The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) expects over 40 million passengers this year, compared to 24 million in 2021. The entire Bay Area region expects 49.8 million visitors this year, compared to 41 million in 2021, representing a 21.4% growth rate over last year. For comparison, that number of tourists was 57.7 million in 2019.