While I live in the heart of San Francisco on Market Street – one doesn’t get more inner city than that – I also have a second home in Sonoma where my family and friends gather throughout the year.
I am also the President and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association. Tourism is the top generator of outside revenue for the city of San Francisco, yielding more than $9.38 billion in 2013. The City of San Francisco receives $607 million in visitor-induced taxes, and tourism supports 76,834 jobs, with an associated annual payroll of $2.31 billion.
So, as a resident of both cities, I join the conversation regarding London Park Partners (Valley of the Moon Natural History Association) and Transcendence Theatre Company from a dual perspective. I fully support their efforts to bring live theater and cultural programming to Jack London State Historic Park, as more than just an “interested party.” Over the years in San Francisco, I have seen how various organizations have been able to activate, restore and improve public spaces from Golden Gate Park to the Presidio.
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy immediately springs to mind. Since partnering with the National Park Service and Presidio Trust in 1981, the Conservancy has provided more than $250 million in support to Golden Gate National Park, rallied more than 250,000 volunteers and pioneered innovative park stewardship and education programs in more than 30 beloved national park sites north and south of the Golden Gate.
I can’t imagine what San Francisco might look like and how much the visitor experience would have been diminished were it not for this amazing organization, and dozens more like it. Research we commissioned in 2010 indicates that travelers highly value San Francisco’s arts and cultural assets. That same survey indicated that in San Francisco, gardens and parks were ranked as “important” and “very important” destination attributes. The preliminary results of our 2014 Visitor Profile research indicates that “visiting a park” is among the top three activities visitors engage in here, and more than 26 percent of our visitors go to Golden Gate Park.
With regard to Transcendence Theatre Company and their annual “Broadway Under the Stars” performances in Jack London State Historic Park, I have attended a number of performances. They are outstanding. Cast members are also excellent ambassadors for the Sonoma County experience.
They performed before a delighted audience of some 1,200 hospitality leaders at San Francisco Travel’s annual luncheon on June 19, 2014. I’m sure that many were moved to add one of their shows to their “to do” list this summer.