Mike Madriaga 11 a.m., May 21
Tourism drops sharply for month through March 23
But it may be premature to tie decline to advertising spat
New data from Smith Travel Research show that occupancy in San Diego hotels dropped 4.3% for the four weeks ended March 23, according to Jerry Morrison, Encinitas-based hotel guru. This was the sharpest decline among the 25 largest markets in the U.S. However, it is too early to conclude that the lack of tourism advertising, a result of the differences between Mayor Bob Filner and the Tourism Marketing District, is the villain, according to Morrison. "It's too early to make that cause and effect connection, although it may prove to be absolutely true and may prove to be prophetic," he says. Actually, the third week in March was up from a year earlier, "and by the end of the month this may fix itself," he says. Morrison is concerned that salespeople working for TMD may depart and go with tourism promoters in Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, "and we could be coming from behind [in selling convention center space] for five years." He is also worried that cuts in defense spending could hurt San Diego tourism.
As reported by Dorian Hargrove of the Reader Tuesday (March 26), and by the Union-Tribune Monday, Joe Terzi of TMD blames the stalemate between the mayor and hoteliers for weaker statistics in February. The new data in this post update Hargrove's Tuesday post.