Speakers at Thursday’s San Diego Tourism Authority annual meeting called for continued aggressive visitor promotion in the face of increasing competition from nearby cities.

One of the images used in the San Diego Tourism Authority ad campaign.

While the numbers of visitors to San Diego and their spending has been climbing in recent years, the region still faces competition from nearby locales, the speakers said. “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” debuted last month at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, and Disneyland is planning a park with a “Star Wars” theme in Anaheim.

“The tourism landscape is more competitive than ever,” said Joe Terzi, president and CEO of the SDTA.

“These new attractions, combined with enormous tourism marketing budgets for nearby destinations and attractions, pose a threat to San Diego’s market share and our ability to grow San Diego’s second-largest traded economy,” Terzi said.

Tourism officials pointed out that when promotional funds were temporarily withheld three years ago, the number of visitors declined. Once advertising started up again in early 2014, the result was a record number of tourists.

Last year, 34.3 million people visited San Diego, spending $9.9 billion and supported 183,000 jobs — totals higher than 2014, according to SDTA data.

“The importance of tourism to our region’s economy and our prosperity cannot be overstated,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. “And because tourism is highly competitive, we must continue to tell our story to attract visitors and businesses from across the globe.”

In January, the SDTA launched a $10 million advertising campaign that targets several major U.S. cities, Canada and the United Kingdom. It includes television spots, as well as print, digital and billboard advertising.

Speakers expressed concern over the impact of a pair of initiatives that could reach the November ballot, which would change the way in which tourism promotion is funded.

Signatures are being tallied for one by the Registrar of Voters office. Signature collection is under way for the other, the Chargers proposal to construct a downtown stadium and convention center annex.

— City News Service

Show comments