Tourism is big business in San Francisco, bringing in $9 billion dollars a year to the city’s businesses. Now, a major medical convention expected to bring in 15,000 visitors and drop $40 million in less than a week has decided it will stop bringing its members to the City by the Bay because they don’t feel safe walking the streets. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
“It’s the first time that we have had an out-and-out cancellation over the issue, and this is a group that has been coming here every three or four years since the 1980s,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of S.F. Travel, the city’s convention bureau…
“They said that they are committed to this year and to 2023, but nothing in between or nothing thereafter,” D’Alessandro said. “After that, they told us they are planning to go elsewhere — I believe it’s Los Angeles.”
The doctors group told the San Francisco delegation that while they loved the city, postconvention surveys showed their members were afraid to walk amid the open drug use, threatening behavior and mental illness that are common on the streets.
It’s actually not hard to see why tourists would look for a nicer place to visit. The city is filled with homeless camps, open drug use in public areas, and petty crime. There were 31,000 thefts from vehicles reported in 2017, which works out to 85 per day. Garbage, drug needles, and human feces are ubiquitous sights and smells on the streets. Just yesterday a local news station ran a story about multiple complaints about a 20-pound bag of feces that was abandoned on the street.
CBS affiliate KPIX 5 has a story on the convention complete with man-on-the-street interviews. The people they talked to aren’t shocked by the decision:
Tourists once took home memories of famed cable cars. These days, too often it is of the image of someone begging, or dancing in circles, or just wandering around the streets intoxicated or mentally ill.
“You can smell it,” says one tourist.
“I come from a third world county and it is not as bad as this,” says another.
Here’s the report.