Students create SF walking tour

January 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Tourism is San Francisco's top industry and it's suffering right now. Figures released this week show airline travel and hotel stays are down significantly. On Thursday a group of high school students unveiled their vision for bringing in the tourists.

Chances are if you're visiting San Francisco, you've been to Fisherman's Wharf and you've ridden a cable car. But what about a tour of coffee houses in the Mission District? Places like Cafe Venice which is a hit with neighborhood regulars.

"Maybe they like the coffee because when we're making it, we put a little extra love in it," said Rami Husary, from Café Venice.

Cafe Venice is featured in a new audio walking tour. It was one of eight unveiled on Thursday by students at the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism at Galileo High School.

"We put ourselves in our target audience's shoes, what they would expect of a tour," said Rebecca Recinos, from Galileo High School.

They target other teens and their families. The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau applauds the fresh perspective, especially since the global recession will make this a difficult year for tourism -- the city's leading industry.

"They are looking at San Francisco through eyes that are much younger than mine and a mind that is much more open. I think that's a really beautiful thing to share a young person's perspective about San Francisco. It's going to be different than other people," said Joe D'Alessandro, from the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau.

One of the audio tours showcases the Hayes Valley neighborhood, calling it a hidden gem. One place the teenagers like is minimal. It's an eclectic shop with a beautiful cat.

"Oh, I think it's wonderful. It definitely puts us on the map," said Kristina Runske, from Minimal.

Before the students put their project together, they did their homework. They interviewed tourists, reviewed data on the industry, and looked at existing tours.

The free downloadable walking tours will be posted on the Galileo school website and the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"Making it free tells everyone, 'Go ahead and try it. You're not losing anything,'" said Ernesto Orozco, from Galileo High School.

In fact, you could be gaining a whole new view of San Francisco.

Link to Galileo High School's walking tour: click here