The importance of tourism as a stimulus to local economies is well known. Few areas have been able to accurately quantify this economic importance, however, allowing for ranking of tourism along side other local industries. San Francisco (SF) has undertaken a multi-faceted research program which revealed that far more visitors come to the City than were previously counted.

Through primary research, for the first time SF is able to estimate the number of people staying with friends and relatives. Surprisingly, this "missing" market segment constitutes more visitor-days than those staying in the City's 23,000 hotel rooms. Due to the more intimate contact involved, visitors staying in private homes form the strongest bridge for international understanding. Of those staying in SF Bay Area homes, 15% were international origin.

Visitors exert a profound impact on the SF economy. The visitor "industry", actually a collection of businesses from several sectors of the economy, employs more people than any single traditional private industry in SF (e.g., 18% more than SF's financial industry).

Of special interest was the dramatic finding that an astounding 41% of SF employed adults felt that their jobs were supported in part by tourism.