SAN FRANCISCO – Ever wanted to stay in a fancy hotel or take a ride on this city’s famous cable cars? Well, now is the time because end-of-year deals abound and crowds do not.
The slowing economy and terrorist attacks have shut off the valve of tourists who typically stream into one of America’s most-loved places to visit.
“There’s definitely more elbow room in the city these days,” said Laurie Armstrong of the city’s Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s a little bit calmer, which is nice.”
But visitors are coming back – slowly. Hotel occupancy averaged 59 percent in September, which was off a third of the rate a year ago. In November, occupancy was down by about 10 percent, Armstrong said.
Hotels are throwing in perks such as free parking and tickets to shows like “The Nutcracker” to entice tourists during the winter months, which are typically slow.
The city also is boasting new attractions to help bring back repeat visitors.
The Chinese American National Museum and Learning Center recently opened in the renovated Julia Morgan Chinatown YMCA. It houses more than 50,000 pieces of Chinese art and artifacts.
In his State of the City address in October, Mayor Willie Brown said tourism, which is the city’s bread and butter, will be aided by an outreach plan. Brown said it will go as far as calling potential visitors on the phone and personally inviting them to the city.
San Francisco discounted holiday packages include “Holiday Magic: San Francisco Style,” which offers deals from 35 hotels through the end of the year. The other is “Romance: San Francisco Style,” which includes 22 offers from January through March.
“We’re going to be especially happy to see visitors from the rest of California,” Armstrong said. “I think they’ll notice the spirit of welcome, of community, of heightened hospitality, if you will.”