For the year to date, RevPAR is down 24.9 percent; only three other cities are as bad off. Room revenue is down 22 percent; only four cities are lower. Occupancy is down 13.6 percent year to date; only four metro areas have done worse.
“We probably have lost some tourists [because of Tijuana’s woes], but I don’t think it’s significant,” says Giacomini. Hull thinks the Tijuana mess “is affecting our economy, but I’m not convinced it has a significant effect on our tourism.”
So where does San Diego tourism go from here? “Things have been miserable,” says Hull. “We turned down hard in the fourth quarter of last year. I have been looking for the bottom to be in the fourth quarter of this year. But looking out at economic conditions both in the U.S and globally, it’s going to be a couple of years down the road before we can start talking about growth of tourism. We have to get discretionary income up, and financial problems have to be worked out.”
“It’s ugly,” says Rauch. Corporate and individual business travel is way down. “The leisure markets [families, etc.] are still coming but spending less.” RevPAR will be down 15 percent in the third quarter and down 5 percent in the fourth. “In 2010, we will be back to 2009 levels, which are terrible. The hospitality-industry recession will last through 2010; it hit bottom in 2009 and will stay for a year.”
“Hopefully we have seen the worst,” says Giacomini. “July and August appear to be improving slightly. The fall and winter are in question. We have our fingers crossed for 2010.”
And Tijuana tourism? It “won’t get healthy until the U.S. does,” says Rauch. “They have to shed the traveler’s fears of violence and swine flu. They have to take charge of the drug cartel.” Nobody can predict when that will happen — if ever.