CVB: Visitors to San Francisco Spent $8.5 Billion in 2008

In 2008, San Francisco welcomed 16.4 million visitors who spent $8.52 billion in the Golden Gate City, according to the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (SFCVB), which released this week its annual estimate of the economic impact of tourism in San Francisco.

Compared to 2007, the number of visitors to San Francisco increased 1.7 percent, SFCVB reported, while visitor spending jumped 3.3 percent.

Much of that spending came from Web savvy visitors, as SFCVB found that for every 1,000 visits to its Web site, $15,850 in direct spending was generated.

More visitors and more spending also translated into more tax revenue for the City of San Francisco, according to SFCVB's numbers, which show the tourism industry generated over $527 million in taxes last year, up 6 percent from 2007.

City coffers weren't all that benefited, however, as SFCVB estimates that tourism supported 72,856 jobs in 2008 with an annual payroll of $2.01 billion.

"2008 was a strong year for tourism in San Francisco; 2009 is much more challenging, as is the case for all destinations," SFCVB President and CEO Joe D'Alessandro said in a statement. "The economic uncertainty is affecting travel across the board and around the world. Our job of attracting visitors is much tougher this year than it was in 2008. In a downturn, the focus is on market share—getting a bigger piece of a smaller pie."