By Olivia Wynkoop. Bay City News.
As San Francisco's hotel industry makes plans to revive the Union Square business district, the city's hotels want to hire 1,200 employees per tourist season.
During a joint news conference Tuesday at a downtown hotel, national, state and local hotel leaders said they have high hopes for a bustling summer tourism season as the industry slowly recovers from COVID-19 shutdowns. .
The city's hotel occupancy rate remains down 24 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, but the tourism industry is optimistic that as international travel restrictions ease, group tourism will resume and conferences return to the city, the center will once again be vibrant.
To accommodate the projected increase in visitors and conference attendees, the industry wants to hire and retain hotel workers by providing above-average-paying jobs with benefits and career paths.
The announcement comes immediately after the mayor London Breed and the supervisor Aaron Peskin will introduce legislation Monday that aims to turn empty Union Square retail stores into dynamic spaces.
If approved, building code policies would change so that multi-story buildings can be converted into office space, restaurants, and retail stores all at once.
“The challenges facing downtown require us to imagine what is possible and create the foundation for a stronger, more resilient future,” Breed said.
After about 18 months of lockdown restrictions, San Francisco's 200-plus hotels lost a large portion of their 25,000-person workforce; at the peak of the pandemic, the industry lost about 70 percent of its workers. Today, the workforce is about 75 to 80 percent of what it was before the pandemic, San Francisco Hotel Council President and CEO Alex Bastian said.
“We are thinking about really growing again, we are thinking about bringing this community back to where it was before and taking it even further,” Bastian stressed.
Bastian said now is the time to double down on hospitality, especially as the tech and finance industries face difficulties. Tourism is an industry that provided about $440 million in direct tax revenue in 2019, and getting back to those numbers could directly improve overall conditions for the city, he said.
“We went through earthquakes, we went through pandemics, we went through technological bubbles; And every time we go through whatever challenge it is, we always come back better," Bastian detailed. "We always come back stronger. And that's what we're going to do collectively in this room, and that's what we're going to do as San Franciscans."
California Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO Lynn Mohrfeld said he is "very pleased" with the way San Francisco is working to recover from the pandemic, which has hit hotels in major cities hard. of the state. Across the country, people were not looking for urban destinations with so much uncertainty about the virus, he said.
"Our success in the hotel industry is tied to the vitality of the city," Mohrfeld said.
The revitalization of the hotel also goes hand in hand with the reduction in office vacancies and the return of San Franciscans to Union Square, explained Marisa Rodríguez, executive director of the Union Square Alliance. He said he wants residents to feel like Union Square is their "living room."
"When local hotels prosper, so do Union Square businesses," Rodríguez emphasized. “That's because hotel guests support local shops, restaurants and other small businesses when they visit San Francisco. We are excited to partner with city leaders and hotels to ensure our beloved downtown reaches its full potential."
To learn more about available hotel jobs, residents can visit a job fair at the Ferry Building scheduled for April 12, hosted by the Mayor's Office of Economic and Employment Development.
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