San Diego welcomed 7.6 million tourists in first three months of 2018

 Friday, May 11, 2018 


San DiegoSan Diego County has seen a record of tourist arrivals in first three months of this year. It is according to the tourism data, San Diego welcomed 7.6 million tourists.




The report released by the San Diego Tourism Authority, show marked improvements in visitation and spending over the same period last year as larger numbers of out-of-towners booked hotel stays, visited museums and theme parks or just came to the county for a day.





Overall visitation in San Diego grew by 8.4 percent during the last quarter, while visitor spending, which totaled $2.5 billion, increased by more than 5 percent, tourism officials reported.




Also up were overnight visitors — 4 million — and hotel occupancy — 77 percent.




Even attendance at San Diego’s largest attractions, from the zoo and SeaWorld to the Midway aircraft carrier and Legoland, was up, growing by 16.5 percent, helped along by better performance at SeaWorld following years of declining attendance. The quarterly results reflect a still robust tourism economy that extends to the entire state of California. Visit California, which just released year-end numbers this week, reported that tourist spending of more than $132 million rose nearly 5 percent in California, marking the industry’s eighth consecutive year of growth.




For all of 2017, San Diego County hosted a record 35 million visitors, who spent more than $10.8 billion while here. Los Angeles County reported this week that it, too, reached a new high for visitation in 2017— 48.5 million, including 7.3 million international tourists.



The release of the new visitor numbers came on the same day of the Tourism Authority’s annual meeting. The agency used the occasion to trumpet its successes and also look ahead to future projects like the hoped-for expansion of the city’s convention center and Seaport Village makeover that it hopes will drive more tourists to San Diego.




Terzi reminded his audience of the competition San Diego is facing around the country, from the new Star Wars attraction coming to Disneyland to a planned convention center expansion in Las Vegas.



At the same time that visitation to San Diego has been growing, both domestically and internationally, the Tourism Authority has been spending increasing sums of money marketing the city. Total media spending for this fiscal year, ending June 30, will be $20.7 million, up from nearly $18 million the previous year, and tourism officials are proposing a marketing budget for the coming year of $21.5 million, which could potentially grow by an additional $5 million.




While Terzi is buoyed by the latest numbers, he believes family travel to San Diego has weakened in recent years and needs a boost. So, too, does visitation from Los Angeles-area residents, he said.




The Tourism Authority has been tracking visitation from the L.A. area since the recession’s end through 2015 and has seen a noticeable decline. Focus groups revealed that some residents are turned off by the traffic congestion and are not finding anything new or buzz-worthy to draw them back to San Diego since their last visit. New attractions like the Electric Eel coaster that opened Thursday will help, he added.



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