Record year for tourism expected in San Francisco


Memorial Day is not considered a "special event," but turnout was enormous nonetheless. The U.S. Open golf tournament in June is an event nearly guaranteed to draw a couple hundred thousand people and tens of millions dollars. The America's Cup is not expected to bring in as much, but either way, it will be an action-packed summer for tourism in San Francisco, the likes of which could be unprecedented.

During a typical summer, 7 million to 8 million people visit San Francisco. This summer is hardly typical. It kicked off with the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th anniversary. The U.S. Open golf tournament at the Olympic club is coming up June 11-17, and the America's Cup World Series is August 21-26, a year in advance of next year's main event.

The Perry family from Rhode Island was recently in San Francisco for a family wedding, but they played tourist first. "We're headed to Alcatraz one day. We're going to do a wine tour. We're going to hit Golden Gate Park tomorrow, see all of that," Marnee Perry said, adding that she planned to buy three or four souvenir fleeces.

The San Francisco Travel Association says hotel occupancy numbers won't be in for a couple months, but they're expected to skyrocket beginning with this past weekend. Associated businesses should reap the benefits as well. "Right now, the business is starting to pick up. It was pretty slow before. With the bridge anniversary, summer about to start, we're getting more guided tours, more people looking, everybody wants to bike the bridge," said Chris Arbex Rosas with Bay City Bike.

Tournament officials expect 220,000 at the U.S. Open. Last year, tournament attendees spent $21 million on food and nearly $7 million on recreation, including golf. Tee-times are a hot commodity that week at the Presidio Golf Course. "We have two dates almost sold out completely with corporate events and then the rest of the week is filling up with smaller groups and a lot of public play," tournament sales manager Becky Jensen said. "They're looking at booking farther out than normal."

"Any time the U.S. Open's in town, it's great. It's nice to have," General Manager Don Chelemedos said.

The Stern Grove free summer music series is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year beginning on June 24 and is expected to draw more than the standard 100,000 or so.

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