Tourism has long played an outsized role in the local economy. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, 35 million people visit the city each year to enjoy its sunshine, sandy beaches, and potholed streets, leaving behind $10.8 billion and creating as many as 194,000 jobs.
Those numbers are dwarfed by our northerly neighbor Los Angeles, where 48 million tourists spent approximately $22.7 billion last year.
Still, research commissioned by Go Card, a firm that sells discount admissions to tourist attractions in both markets, suggests that San Diego offers better bang from a tourist's buck.
The study claims to compare nearly 100 data sets in recommending San Diego as a superior destination – we have more than three times the parkland per capita (34.9 acres/1000 residents vs. 9.5 acres in LA) and twice as many days with a high air quality ranking (83 vs. 38). While not necessarily a boon for long-term residents, San Diego's lower rainfall (10.3 inches vs. 12.8) is cited as another plus for visitors lacking enthusiasm for a cloudy vacation trapped in a hotel room.
Entertainment here is cheaper, too – research pegs the price of an Italian sit-down dinner for two at $79, $12 cheaper than in LA. Drilling down, cappuccinos are on average a nickel cheaper and fast food combos edge out our northern neighbors by a dime.