By Joe Terzi and Kerri Kapich
Three months ago, we predicted then that this would be one of the most successful summers for tourism in our county — and the season didn’t disappoint. More than 11 million people visited the county over the past three months, spending $3.5 billion and boosting our local economy.
While it may not seem obvious, record-breaking tourist activity is only possible with access to a safe and reliable water supply.
Every hotel stay, beach day and theme park visit bolsters the tourism industry’s annual economic impact of $17.9 billion. Take Comic-Con: 130,000 pop-culture fans attended the convention in July, generating a regional economic impact of $147.1 million. Hotel and sales tax revenue alone was estimated at $3.3 million, and visitors spent 57,700 nights in hotel rooms that weekend alone.
Of course, it’s not just for one festive weekend. All year long, visitors flock here for our perfect climate and seemingly endless sunny days. In fact, San Diego ranked third in a recent study by the The Washington Post for most days with nice weather among all U.S. cities.
The flip side of that is that the San Diego region has limited natural water resources. Among California’s 10 largest cities, only Bakersfield gets less rain — and, unlike San Diego, it sits on a huge groundwater basin.
That means we must be innovative and forward-thinking in water-supply development, and we must continue to invest in ways that will sustain our water treatment and delivery system.
Our water supplies are the result of investments by the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies dams, reservoirs, water treatment plants, pipelines and other facilities. Over the past 20 years, the water authority alone invested $2.4 billion in a handful of major reliability projects — including the nation’s largest seawater desalination plant — that benefit the regional economy by delivering safe and reliable water to hotels, theme parks and all the other attractions that allow our tourism industry to thrive.
Joe Terzi is president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority and Kerri Kapich is chief operating officer.
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