The San Francisco Travel Association, the official destination marketing organisation for San Francisco, has released the city’s official 2022 tourism figures, as well as an updated 2023 tourism forecast. In 2022, San Francisco reported a significant increase in visitors, with 21.9 million visitors welcomed to the city, up 29% year on year. Visitor spending more than doubled year on year, totalling $7.4 billion in 2022 up from $3.56 billion in 2021.
In 2022, San Francisco welcomed 1.7 million international visitors, a 211% increase year-on-year, driven largely by a notable return of European travellers. Though international visitors comprised just 24% of the total overnight visitor volume, they contributed to over 60% of all overnight visitor spending at $3.7 billion, up from $1 billion in 2021.
Based on the most recent 2022 data available from Oxford Economics, the top five international markets for visitor volume in 2022 were Mexico, the U.K., Canada, India, and Germany. The top five international markets for spending in 2022 were India, the U.K., Mexico, Canada, and Germany. As the city’s major entry point, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) continued to cement its position as the perfect welcome to the city, serving over 42.3 million passengers in 2022.
Average hotel occupancy was 62.1%, up 43.7% from 2021’s occupancy rate, and room nights consumed by delegates attending conventions at the renowned Moscone Center totalled 347,788 – a 1,933% increase from 2021. 33 events were hosted in 2022 at the Center, up from five the previous year following its reopening in September 2021.
“The incredible growth in 2022 was fuelled largely by international leisure travellers and our convention business, with the 33 events booked at Moscone Center driving $587 million in convention and meetings spending,” said Joe D’Alessandro, San Francisco Travel’s President and CEO. “We made significant headway in 2022 through targeted efforts to attract overseas travellers and secure events for Moscone Center.”
Tourism is one of the largest sectors for job creation in the city, and in 2023, jobs supported by tourism grew 95% to 53,156, up from 27,318 last year. Leisure travel is expected to continue its steady recovery and overall visitation to the city is forecast to reach 23.9 million in 2023. Total visitor spending is expected to grow from $7.4 billion in 2022 to $8.7 billion in 2023. International arrivals are projected to grow to two million in 2023, with an anticipated contribution of $4.3 billion in spending.
Hotel occupancy in 2023 is forecast to reach 70%, up 12.7% from 2022. San Francisco currently has 253 hotels with a room inventory of 36,165. Hotel room nights associated with Moscone Center events will almost double in 2023 to over 673,000. There are 35 events confirmed at Moscone Center in 2023 so far, and higher attendance is expected at events this year in line with national industry trends and definite hotel bookings.
SFO projects it will see over 50 million passengers in 2023, up approximately 8 million from 2022. The airport forecasts it will return to 2019’s 58-million-annual-passenger levels of traffic between 2025 and 2026.
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