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Tourism Industry Seeks Long-Haul Visitors

The San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau released last year's tourism numbers at its annual meeting today, and they show that business was better than in 2010, but still down due to the recession.

San Diego tourism was up in 2011. But it still hasn't rebounded to pre-recession levels.

Joe Terzi is president of the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (CONVIS). He told the gathering at the downtown Marriott Hotel that 31 million visitors came to San Diego in 2011. That was up about one million from the year before.

But business was still down from 2008. One challenge facing San Diego tourism is attracting people from farther away.

“Sixty-three percent of our overnight visitors come from California, Arizona and Nevada: three states,” said Terzi.

CONVIS is trying to expand its customer base by spending $30 million to market San Diego nationwide as a destination. Terzi said the point is not just to increase the number of visitors, but also to increase tourism revenues.

"We own the drive market,” he said. “But the problem is we need to get people to come and stay longer from some of these long-haul markets. Those people spend more money, they stay longer, and they're more lucrative to the destination."

Terzi addressed the CONVIS annual meeting, which is called the "State of the Travel Industry" meeting. He also said San Diego logged 3.8 million hotel room nights in 2011. The visitor industry employed 163,000 San Diegans that year, and brought $17.2 billion to the regional economy.

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