SAN FRANCISCO – While tourism numbers still have a way to go before fully recovering to pre-pandemic levels, businesses said the busy July 4th holiday was a good sign of progress.
SF Travel, which tracks travel to the Bay Area, reports tourism is up more than 20% year-over-year, but still down 40% from a record high of 26 million visitors in 2019.
KPIX 5 caught a ride on one of the large open-air tourist buses Tuesday, as business remained brisk after the holiday.
"We are very, very busy. We had a really good weekend," says Nicole Ritthaler of Big Bus SF.
As a sales boss for Big Bus SF, Ritthaler said the holiday brought bigger numbers than expected, and the businesses around the bus station are happy about it.
Still, the numbers aren't what they have been.
"Our best year we've ever had was 2019, and I would say we are at about 70% of that, 70-80%, so it's like Christmas, but in July," Ritthaler told KPIX 5.
Families out of masks and armed with selfie sticks rode one of many open-air buses Tuesday through downtown San Francisco all the way out to the Golden Gate Bridge.
"I hear them saying, no more COVID," says bus driver Jamal.
One of Jamal's passengers Tuesday was Mario. He and his family were visiting San Francisco from overseas.
"It's a beautiful city. A little bit cold," Mario told KPIX 5.
Still, following 4th of July holiday, tourists and business owners feel the travel chill brought on by the pandemic, may be warming.
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