In the heart of the international media center of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Week at the Moscone Center, the largest convention complex in San Francisco, lie two unique exhibits catching sight of reporters who gather to cover the leading forum on regional cooperation.
One is “Love Letters to SF,” an art installation consisting of hundreds of shimmering golden cards on which residents and visitors handwrote their responses to the question “What makes San Francisco shine?”
The other is Car 62, a classic symbol of the Golden City and one of a few real cable cars converted into a motor vehicle, which boasts the world’s last remaining, manually operated cable car system.
The APEC week, gathering political and business leaders from 21 member economies accounting for nearly 40 percent of the global population and nearly 50 percent of global trade, is the largest convening of world leaders in the U.S. city in nearly 80 years.
As host, San Francisco is not at all hiding its intention to take the opportunity to revigorate its tourism economy by having APEC meeting visitors rediscover its rich tourism assets.
It is estimated that the event can generate around 55,000 hotel stays and more than 50 million U.S. dollars in revenue for the city.
“We’re happy to welcome people from all over the world to really celebrate in our city, to celebrate what APEC means to the world, to our economy, to our business relationships, to tourism,” said Mayor London Breed during her brief tour to the media center on Monday morning.
She encouraged reporters to download a local tourism app and step outside the complex to explore various neighborhoods in San Francisco.
“I am hopeful people bring home just good vibes, good relationships and good times here in our city. And then we want people to want to come back to San Francisco and visit with their families, with their friends,” said Breed.
In particular, Breed said she hopes “APEC will be an important part of making sure that (the Chinese) people remember San Francisco is the gateway to China.”
A 2022 report by online news organization San Francisco Standard found that over a fifth of San Franciscans, or about 180,000 people, had Chinese roots in 2021, which “aligns with the city’s rich Chinese history.”
“There are a lot of residents of Chinese descent here, lots of people who have emigrated from China as well. We’ve got a lot of family relationships, history and communities (related to China),” Breed said.
According to the city’s statistics, in 2019, 518,000 of San Francisco’s 4.3 million international visitors were from China, who contributed significantly to local tourism revenues.
Breed was confident about pulling an increasing number of Chinese visitors to the city by the end of this year, especially with the gradual restoration of nonstop flights between China and the San Francisco International Airport.
With its dynamic Chinese communities and rich Chinese cultural heritages, the city has a strong edge in regaining the hearts of Chinese visitors, she added.