Business travel to San Francisco seeing post-pandemic recovery

SAN FRANCISCO — As San Francisco’s post-pandemic economic rebound continues, business travel to the city is finally beginning to come back to life.

“We’re starting to see that return of business travel, and that’s a really positive and encouraging sign for San Francisco,” said SF Travel President and CEO  Joe D’Alessandro. “Business travel is a really important sector for San Francisco. It generates around 30% of all of our travel and tourism to San Francisco.”

For United Airlines, business travel to and from the San Francisco International Airport in April was three times higher than it was in January, according to a company spokesperson.

“The economic recovery of San Francisco is in full force,” said D’Alessandro.

A major hotel, Parc 55 San Francisco, re-opened on Thursday.

“We expect business travel to increase as the summer increases,” said hotel general manager Terry Lewis. “We’re so happy. Business is returning. We’re grateful.”

Some smaller businesses in the city are hopeful the increase in business travelers will provide them with a boost as well.

“I hope that it will bring in more regular customers, get our name out there more, so that we can be a destination spot for San Francisco travelers,” said Miranda Felkins, the store manager of Glazier, a rolled ice cream shop near Union Square.

Lauren Ellis, who owns Union Square art gallery CK Contemporary, says she’s noticed there are more people out and about in the area.

“Right across our windows every day, we’re starting to see full cable cars, we’re starting to see people that are here for conventions wearing tags and badges,” she said. “I am, for the first time, feeling very optimistic about the future.”

D’Alessandro says this is a good sign, but he doesn’t anticipate San Francisco will see a full recovery until 2024.

“It’s going to take time,” he said. “But, we’re seeing very positive signs right now. This is the most visitation we’ve seen, this quarter right now since the beginning of the pandemic.”