Local businesses dependent upon visitors to the region and hoping for a quick recovery for the San Diego tourism sector may have a long wait ahead of them, according to the president of the San Diego Tourism Authority.
Julie Coker, the tourism authority's resident and CEO, told NBC 7 that the local industry probably won't get fully back on track for another three or four years.
"We do believe that it’ll be '24, '25 before we see a full recovery, but all of the indicators right now are extremely positive for San Diego’s tourism economy," Coker said.
Visitors to the region spent nearly $11.6 billion annually prior to the pandemic, according to SanDiego.org. The sector at that time employed nearly 200,000 San Diegans.
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According to tourism authority's figures for June through August of this year, there were an estimated 8.97 million visitors to San Diego County, and they spent approximately $2.44 billion while there were in town. In contrast, in 2019 there were 11.11 million visitors during that same period, and they added $3.62 billion, according to the tourism authority.
On Thursday, the agency held its annual meeting with other tourism leaders from around the country. This year's theme was the Road to Recovery, focusing on travel trends, economic impacts and how to bounce back from the pandemic.
"We were very fortunate to have a strong summer here in San Diego," Coker told NBC 7. "Oftentimes, we were No. in occupancy average rate in hotel — which was great. We know that on Nov. 8, the borders will reopen for international visitation, which is certainly great for us."
Coker noted that conventions are also large part of the local tourism industry, pointing out that there have been 11 such events in San Diego County since August. She said there are 51 others already booked for 2022.