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San Diego Tourism Officials Hope For A Better Year In 2014

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The downtown San Diego skyline is seen at night.

Aired 3/28/14 on KPBS News.

San Diego's tourist economy grew last year, but not enough to satisfy local tourism officials.

San Diego had nearly 38 million visitors last year, that's up nearly 4 percent from the year before.

In fact, The San Diego Tourism Authority says nearly all of the indicators they track gained ground in 2013.

Authority president Joe Terzi says there were more overnight visitors, more border crossers, more people going to local attractions.

The direct economic impact was $8 billion. Even so, he sees 2013 as an underperforming year.

"We lost ground last year," Terzi said. "San Diego has a small increase, about a 1 percent increase in occupancy in hotels in San Diego."

Terzi says the local region did not perform as well as rivals.

Beth Accomando

Comic-Con 2013.

Anaheim's room occupancy rate jumped 2.5 percent. San Francisco's rate grew by 3.3 percent.

The San Diego Tourism Authority is launching a $12 million ad campaign to capture some of that growth. State economic development officials Kish Rajan says the competition is good for California.

"The impact of the hospitality industry to California's economy is over $100 billion annually and so we in the state government want to encourage that. We want to help it," Rajan said.

Rajan and Terzi both pointed to China as a key tourism target.

In San Diego, China's growing middle class could bring even more money into a sector that already employs 165,000 people.

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