San Francisco tourism stats round-up post

Carla Vianna
Carla Vianna
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San Francisco tourism stats round-up post

With its hilly streets, colorful homes, and scenic coastline, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S.

Up until the pandemic, over 25 million visitors from the U.S. and beyond visited the Northern California city every year. As the travel industry recovers, people are once again starting to visit San Francisco for its atmosphere and ambiance, scenic beauty, and restaurants and cuisine.

If you’re an attraction or tour operator looking to better understand the city’s tourism market, look no further. In this post, we’re breaking down the past three years of San Francisco tourism statistics.

How many tourists visit San Francisco each year? 

About 26 million people visited San Francisco in 2019, the last normal year before the Covid-19 pandemic. That number dropped significantly over the past two years, but the city is now on its way to recovery.

The city is forecast to reach 21.9 million visitors in 2022, with overall visitor spending growing to $6.1 billion — an impressive increase from the $3.1 billion spent in 2021. 

Yet it won’t be until 2024 that visitor numbers return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.

SF Tourists in 2021

In 2021, San Francisco welcomed 14.8 million visitors to the city. This was an increase of 25% from 2020 — but down 44% from a record-high of 26.2 million visitors in 2019.

SF Tourists in 2020

Only 10.2 million visitors traveled to San Francisco in 2020. The steep 61% decline from 2019 was due to the pandemic, which curbed domestic and international travel for most of the year.

SF Tourists in 2019

2019 was a record year for San Francisco. About 26.2 million visitors traveled to the city that year, up 1.4 percent from the 25.8 million that visited in 2018. 

SF Monthly Tourism Numbers

About 2 million people visited San Francisco every month in 2019, before numbers began trickling down due to the pandemic.

SF Weekly Tourism Numbers

About half a million people visited San Francisco every week in 2019.

SF Daily Tourism Numbers

In 2019, an average of 71,805 people visited San Francisco each day. In 2020, that figure dropped to 27,911 visitors. As visitors began to return to the city, the average daily visitor count went up to 40,519 in 2021.

How much money does tourism bring to San Francisco? 

In 2019, San Francisco had a record-breaking tourism year. The industry generated $819.7 million in taxes and fees for the city, an increase of 6% over the previous year. Hotel taxes represented 51% of that figure, and property tax contributed 21%.

Meanwhile in 2020, the tourism industry only generated $273.4 million, down 66.6% from the nearly $820 million in 2019.

Ongoing travel restrictions and the lack of conventions kept tourism revenue down last year, too. Only $257.4 million was generated in 2021, down 6% from 2020 and down 69% 2019.

Which Demographics Want to Visit San Francisco the Most?

San Francisco’s travel industry is known as a “triple threat” because it attracts pleasure, business, and conference travelers alike. And the city keeps travelers coming back time and time again: Only 24.4% are first-time visitors.

Most (85.6%) of San Francisco’s visitors are on vacation. Aboout 7% are traveling for business purposes, and another 7% are visiting for a convention.

It’s also worth noting that the city also attracts affluent tourists whose average household income is $94,637.

How many Americans visit San Francisco each year? 

Most of San Francisco’s visitors are Americans. Of the 26 million people who visited in 2019, about 23 million came from the U.S. In 2021, the city welcomed 14.3 million Americans (and only 500,000 international visitors).

Top airports of origin for tourists that visit San Francisco

These are the top three domestic airports of origin by number of flights:

  1. Los Angeles International Airport in California
  2. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington
  3. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport imn Nevada

How many international tourists visit San Francisco each year?  

San Francisco welcomed 2.9 million international visitors in 2019. In 2020, that number dropped to 570,000 international visitors.

Ongoing lockdowns and Covid-19 outbreaks further hampered international tourism to the city in 2021.

The number of international visitors dropped again to 481,000 in 2021, which represents a 4% dip from 2020 and an 84% decrease from 2.9 million in 2019.

Top countries that have the most tourists that visit San Francisco

In 2019,  San Francisco’s top five international markets were:

  • 1. Mexico
  • 2. China
  • 3. United Kingdom
  • 4. Canada
  • 5. Germany. 

Meanwhile, the fastest growing markets were France, Italy, and Taiwan.

Now, the top five markets are made up of Mexico, India, Canada, the Netherlands, and Taiwan.

How Much Do Tourists Typically Spend in San Francisco? 

San Francisco visitors spent a record $10.3 billion in 2019. Visitor spending totaled to $26.2 million per day — or $1.1 million per hour.

The average visitor spent about $365 per day, while convention attendees spent about $584.

International visitors spent $5.1 billion in 2019, a whole lot more than their domestic counterparts. Before Covid, international visitors accounted for over 60% of all overnight visitor spending, even though they represented just 28% of the city’s visitors. 

As a result of the pandemic, visitor spending in San Francisco dropped 80% in 2020. In 2021, total spending increased to $3.1 billion, up from $2.8 billion in 2020 but down 70% from 2019.

Share of tourism spending/revenue in SF by country of origin 

The top five markets for visitor spending in 2019 were China, the United Kingdom, India, South Korea, and Australia. In 2021, the top five markets were swapped to include Mexico, India, Canada, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

How Many Hotel Rooms Are In San Francisco? 

There are about 34,000 hotel rooms in San Francisco. Average hotel occupancy was 82.9 percent in 2019 with average daily rates hitting $277.

How many tours and attractions are in San Francisco? 

There are hundreds of tours and attractions available in San Francisco. 

The leading attractions visited include: 

  • Pier 39
  • The Golden Gate Bridge
  • Golden Gate Park
  • The Ferry Building

Top 20 San Francisco Tourism Attractions by the numbers 

  1. More than 24 million visitors put Golden Gate Park on their San Francisco bucket list. Golden Gate Park is the third most-visited city park in the country.
  2. About 13.7 million people visited the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 2021, which is close to the number of people that visited in 2019 (15 million).
  3. More than 10 million people flock to the Golden Gate Bridge every year.
  4. The Presidio welcomes 7.5 million visitors each year and is also home to 200 organizations and 3,000 residents.
  5. About 2 million people visit the “crooked” section of San Francisco’s Lombard Street every year.
  6. Only 643,000 people visited Alcatraz Island in 2021, compared to 1.6 million in 2019.
  7. More than 1.2 million visitors go to Crissy Field every year to walk and bike the promenade.
  8. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is the nation’s largest museum of modern and contemporary art. The newly expanded museum welcomed 1.2 million visitors during its first year.
  9. Nearly 1 million people visited the Fort Point National Historic Site in 2021.
  10. The Exploratorium welcomed about 1 million visitors every year.
  11. Over 650,000 people visited the beautiful redwood at Muir Woods National Monument in 2021.
  12. Nearly 500,000 people attend over 200 concerts and presentations of the San Francisco Symphony each year.
  13. More than 155,250 people wander through Union Square’s shops on a given day.
  14. The California Academy of Sciences attracts about 80,000 visitors every year.
  15. The Asian Art Museum is home to a collection of 18,000 artworks spanning 6,000 years and every corner of Asia.
  16. A record 37,000 visitors took a tour at Oracle Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. Over 300 private tours are conducted annually.
  17. Nearly 20,000 people visit Angel Island every year.
  18. The Contemporary Jewish Museum has welcomed more than 1.2 million visitors in the last ten years. Nearly 20,000 attend through school, youth, and family programs every year.
  19. The San Francisco Zoo and Gardens is home to more than 1,000 exotic, endangered and rescued animals.
  20. The de Young showcases American art from the 17th through 21st centuries, boasting more than 25,000 works of art on display from around the world.

***

San Francisco is one of the most visited cities in the U.S. If you’re contemplating opening a travel business in the city, know that the tourism industry is slowly recovering to its pre-pandemic days. Visitor numbers and spending are expected to reach pre-pandemic levels between 2024 and 2025.

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Writer Carla Vianna

Carla Vianna

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