San Francisco tourism yet to catch up to pre-panedmic levels, hoping Labour Day weekend to boost tourism

 Monday, September 4, 2023 


Some San Francisco small companies stated they are still battling to return to pre-epidemic levels three and a half years after the pandemic began.Even for this Labor Day weekend, Union Square and Downtown have been relatively sluggish.

Maneet Sohal, whose income is based on tourism because he owns San Francisco Deluxe Sightseeing Tours, which operates the “hop-on, hop-off” buses spoke to KPIX 5 and stated, “We’re picking (the tourists) up; we’re dropping them off. Every 25 minutes, we have a new bus come around.” said Sohal.

“Business is on par with last year, so it’s almost identical to what we did last year. But we’re about 70 percent of what we did in 2019 right now.”

Other businesses in the area agreed.

Pinecrest Diner in Union Square is no longer open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Manager Morena Hernandez stated that they had to reduce their hours due to decreased foot traffic.

“We’re surviving. We’re not thriving,” said Hernandez. “I wish the city would do something with homelessness because that really affects a lot.”

Many companies blamed the decline on a triple trifecta of homelessness, crime, and the pandemic, which they claimed further exacerbated the crisis. They blamed years of terrible city policy for the deterioration of roadway conditions.

“I grew up here in North Beach, and it’s a beautiful city that I love. And it doesn’t seem as beautiful anymore,” said Mac Leibert, whose family owns Pier 23 Cafe.”I’d like to see the politicians get it back to the jewel that it can be.”

Aside from violence and homelessness, a first-time tourist from Las Vegas stated the city had a reputation issue.

“That’s what took me so long to come here. My wife was like, ‘Let’s go to San Francisco.’ And I was like, ‘Well, they say it’s horrible there now.’ It is beautiful, the weather is great,” said the tourist.

Despite the economic troubles in Downtown San Francisco, Pier 39 had a large audience this weekend.

Pier 39 spokesperson Sue Muzzin noted that pier tenant sales are around the same this summer as they were in 2019.

Sohal has also noted that his buses are picking up and letting off a greater number of people at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.

“I think tourists preferred to stay on that side of town. Maybe safety is the issue,” said Sohal.

He believes that municipal leaders must do more to ensure that everyone not just lives but flourishes.

“We’re hoping that tourism does bounce back and is even better than 2019,” said Sohal.

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