Elisabeth Wieselthaler-Toelly, San Francisco Travel Association; Melinda Yee Franklin, United Airlines; Melissa Andretta, San Francisco Airport; Hubertus Funke, San Francisco Trave Elisabeth Wieselthaler-Toelly, San Francisco Travel Association; Melinda Yee Franklin, United Airlines; Melissa Andretta, San Francisco Airport; Hubertus Funke, San Francisco Trave

Rugby 7s and beyond in SFO

The Rugby 7s World Cup in July was the ‘hook’ for a San Francisco delegation that held a function for the travel trade at the Air New Zealand Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre in Auckland yesterday – but the visit also provided an opportunity to emphasise some key marketing messages.

Joe D’Alessandro, president and chief executive officer of San Francisco Travel, says the city and its surrounding region continue to distance themselves from any perception that visitors are not welcome.

‘Political changes in DC a year ago have left some people concerned about being welcomed in the USA. San Francisco is different – we’ve been welcoming people for 200 years and we are still doing it. We continue to dance to our own music.’

Alessandro says the destination is also emphasising that while familiar attractions like Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay area and China Town are still accessible, San Francisco has many new drawcards – often driven by the thriving tech community.

‘Places like the Mission District are coming into their own. Rent is cheaper and a lot of funky new restaurants are opening there. Rugby 7s and beyond – you’re welcome in SFO We’re really encouraging people to explore the neighbourhoods. Our tagline is ‘Never the same – Always San Francisco.’

Hubertus Funke, executive vice president, global tourism development with San Francisco Travel Association, says NZ is already an important market for the city.

‘Repeat visitation is important to us and we are encouraging people to visit areas like Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite National Park, and Sacramento. The whole of California is beautiful but we have so much to offer in San Francisco and Northern California.’

ProMag