San Francisco hopes for tourism rebound as county gears to move into less restrictive tier

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's red tier status, and the hope it could move to the less restrictive orange tier later this month, opens a door to revive tourism.

The economy is part of Building A Better Bay Area. A slow, long-term recovery could bring back jobs and fill restaurants and hotels.

On a picture perfect day, every one of San Francisco's signature attractions is a visual delight. Many are reopening and coming back to life. What's missing are visitors, who may like how it's quieter and more intimate now without crowds if they come.

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It may take longer to get tourists to feel comfortable about flying here from across the country. So the focus with more people vaccinated is on local and regional West Coast visitors, especially those cooped up for the last 12 months.

The pandemic hit the tourism economy hard. It supported 86,000 jobs before COVID. Tourist spending of $9.6 billion dropped 67% last year but could see a modest comeback this year if visitor numbers improve.

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So far, the state has not issued guidelines about rebooting the $66 billion meetings and conventions sector. A coalition of 134 tourism and labor groups sent a letter Thursday to Governor Newsom, saying the lack of a blueprint puts nearly 460,000 related jobs in peril.

At the national level, there's talk of creating a so-called vaccination passport so travelers can verify they've been inoculated. It might also make travelers feel more comfortable around fellow passengers on planes, buses and ships.

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