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San Francisco tries to get tourists off the beaten path

The SF Travel Association has launched a program to bring tourists to neighborhood gems that might be off the beaten path.
March 13, 2014 1:06:47 PM PDT
It's probably not a surprise to you that tourism is San Francisco's number one industry. But many visitors never venture from the typical hotspots of Fisherman's Wharf and Union Square and that's why the San Francisco Travel Association has launched a program to bring those tourists and their money to neighborhood gems that might be off the beaten path.

Every day there are more than 100,000 visitors in San Francisco, many of course heading to Lombard Street, Alcatraz or the Painted Ladies.

But how about the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor in the Mission District? It's listed in the tourist guides thanks to the San Francisco Travel Association's Neighborhood Partner Program.

"The purpose of the Neighborhood Partner Program is to extend the power of tourism, the No. 1 industry, into all corners of our destination here," association spokesperson Todd O'Leary said.

The owners of Roosevelt Tamale Parlor were selected last year for the special mentoring and marketing.

"They offer you these great opportunities and it's just up to you to fit them into your business model and make them work for you," Aaron Presbrey said.

The San Francisco Travel Association says nearly 75 percent of the city's tourists are repeat visitors who may be ready for a new experience. So how about leaving Union Square for West Portal?

A customer nominated Bella Sag and her European style clothing store for the partner program last year. She calls it wonderful and supportive, but says it's not really working so far.

"I don't have time and another thing I realized is nobody's going to come to West Portal to look for my store," Sag said.

But that's the goal -- to have unique places off the beaten path cash in on the nearly $9 billion a year tourism industry.

"We're going to tell these stories about these businesses and neighborhoods," O'Leary said.

The deadline to apply or nominate someone for this year is Saturday, March 15.

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