SF Tourism Organization Warned of Homelessness Impact on Visitor Numbers
PEOPLE VISITING SAN FRANCISCO FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE BECOMING MORE AWARE OF THE HOMELESS PROBLEM. KPIX FIVE’S JOHN RAMOS SAYS: THE CITY’S TOURISM INDUSTRY IS WORRIED. It may sound crazy, but shortly after the 1906 earthquake and fire leveled SF, city leaders decided that TOURISM was a way to repair the economy. It workedâand now, more than a century later, visitors contribute more than 700 million dollars a year to keep the city running. “So, tourism has long been the key industry in San Francisco.” Welcome to the 108th annual luncheon of the city’s largest tourism organization known as SF Travel. The group includes businesses that cater to touristsâso you may be surprised how candid today’s message wasâ “We’ve got such a glorious history, such a beautiful setting and the fact isâwe’re letting it slip away.” And there is one problem causing that concern. Daniel Lurie/Founder, Tipping Point Community Tonight, 23,000 people will be homeless in the Bay Areaâthat’s a crisis.” Joe D’Alessandro/SF Travel President and CEO “We’ve lost conventions who are afraid to come to SF because coming here they saw some of the conditions on the streetsâthey said, I don’t know if this is safe and secure.” Ironically, it may be the superheated economy, with its high housing costs, that is forcing those on the margins out onto the street. Whatever the reason, homelessness is growing in the Bay Areaâand is becoming much more visible to the visitors. Shawn Prementine/Family visiting from Ohio “My wife noticed a sidewalk full of tents and she said, you wouldn’t be able to build a house on the sidewalkâso why are they tolerating tents on the sidewalk?” The city “tolerates” it because it doesn’t seem to have any choice. There is simply no affordable place to put poor people in the area. But the tourism group believes THAT compassion is being exploited and more should be done to deal with the crime, filth and open drug use in the city. (Joe) “We can’t blame people on the streets because they’re there because of unfortunate situationsâwe have to help them. But at the same time we can’t tolerate bad behavior on the streetsâand that has to stop.” SF’s tourism was born of adversity and it faces adversity today. Luckily, the city holds enough charm to keep visitors coming back in spite of it. In SF, JR, KPIX-5. THE 700 MILLION DOLLARS THAT JOHN MENTIONED IS JUST FROM THE TAXES GENERATED BY TOURISM. OVERALL… VISITORS SPEND MORE THAN 10 BILLION A YEAR… MAKING TOURISM THE CITY’S LARGEST INDUSTRY. TOSS TO METEOROLOGIST MARY LEE.