San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA) believes that India can be the next top source market for the region. “Currently, India is the second fastest growing, emerging market with China being at the top and Brazil being third. It ranks in the top 10 international markets in terms of arrival as well as spending power,” stated Joe D’ Alessandro, president and CEO, SFTA. The arrivals from the India market have registered a 27.4 per cent growth between 2010 and 2014, with 1,49,000 Indian travellers visiting the city of San Francisco in 2014.
Alessandro is also hopeful about an increased traffic from India, majorly due to the improved air connectivity between the two countries. “Etihad Airways launched service from Abu Dhabi to San Francisco in December, and Turkish Airlines started a flight to the city from their hub in Istanbul a couple of weeks ago. Similarly, carriers like Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and Emirates are also focusing on the India market and offering connectivity from their respective hubs,” stated Alessandro.
“40 per cent of Indians coming to the US visit San Francisco,” he added. As per statistics, more than 48 per cent of Indian visitors to the city are first-timers, and 95 per cent of them express desire to visit the city again. In terms of average number of days spent in San Francisco and per visitor spend, Indians score much higher than other nationalities, said Alessandro. While any other international visitor stays for four days on an average in the city, the Indian visitor stays for 5.4 days, with a per-person-per-visit spend of US$ 2,580, he elaborated. SFTA expects upto 16 per cent growth in Indian arrivals over the next three years.
Talking about the MICE sector, Alessandro said that the segment is among the focus segments for San Francisco, and India stands on the number six position in terms of number of convention delegates visiting the city. Within the MICE segment, San Francisco wants to concentrate on the international incentive market. “We have seen good growth in incentive travel to the city in the last few years, and we want to grow in this market,” he added. San Francisco will be adding more attractions. The Museum of Modern Art, with a large private collection of art, will open in February 2016, informed Alessandro. There will be a large events space in the museum. The city added a cruise ship terminal in September 2014. He also stated that the Golden Jubilee of Super Bowl will be a major event in early 2016 and is expected to attract one million visitors.