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San Francisco's Tourism Slump Blamed On Homelessness And President Trump

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- San Francisco, one of the world's most beautiful cities is getting a trashy reputation.

Now there is a new effort to make the city shine.

There's not alarm yet. But there is certainly concern about how the city of San Francisco is viewed in the eyes of tourists -- especially those coming from around the world.

With a skyline so beautiful, San Francisco isn't really a tough sell for tourists. But if there is a common complaint. It's that the view from the ground isn't always as nice.

San Francisco Travel CEO Joe D'Alessandro said, "The most common negative thing tourists say is the condition of our streets -- whether it's aggressive panhandling or encampments on the streets or just dirt and trash. And in fact, that is tarnishing our brand."

Tourism in San Francisco is big business, an estimated 25 million people visit the city each year and the tourism industry employs more than 80,000.

But they have experienced a slight slowdown recently. In part, D'Alessandro says because international tourists worry the U.S. has become an unwelcoming place for foreign guests under President Donald Trump.

But also because of conditions on the city's streets.

"They wonder why does one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest states have streets that look like this? Why are there people living on the streets in these conditions? And it's not acceptable honestly. And we're failing as a society for not addressing this," D'Alessandro said.

How much is the city's dirty reputation harming tourism? Well, it's hard to tell.

Tourist Nacole Garafola said, "We think the city is beautiful. I think everywhere could use improvement. Nowhere is perfect. We did notice a lot of homeless near where we were staying."

Garafola is visiting with a friend from New York and says she was charmed by San Francisco. Dirt and all.

"We love the city. It's got a lot of charm. And I plan on coming back," Garafola said.

Tourism is a $10 billion a year business in San Francisco and there is obviously a great desire to protect and grow what amounts to the city's largest private industry.

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