City officials tout impact of Pride, Comic-Con on San Diego economy and tourism

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego officials Thursday highlighted the economic and cultural lift provided by two major upcoming events.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, the San Diego Tourism Authority and event officials addressed the media Thursday morning to showcase the importance of San Diego LGBT Pride, Comic-Con and other events in San Diego.

Faulconer said, "San Diego is coming off its best tourism year ever and these two events showcase some of the best our city has to offer to visitors and residents alike. Aside from having an enormous cultural impact on our city and visitors, Pride and Comic-Con pump millions of dollars into our local economy to support local businesses, job growth, road repair and public safety."

City Councilman Chris Ward added, "Every year, San Diego Pride brings millions of dollars to support and showcase the local businesses that make Hillcrest such an important and inclusive community, and the whole city comes to downtown for a week-long party celebrating Comic-Con. These events are not only a wonderful opportunity to welcome thousands of visitors to San Diego, but a time for two of our most dynamic communities to host two of our city's iconic annual events."

City officials said is San Diego's largest convention with more than 135,000 attendees and attracts thousands of other visitors who want to be in the middle of the world's premiere celebration of the popular arts. The convention has an estimated economic impact of $135 million.

"Over the last 47 years, our little local annual convention has grown into a worldwide celebration of the popular arts. It not only creates jobs for additional Comic-Con staff, but local businesses and organizations from outside our city hire San Diegans to meet the needs of the thousands of people who attend our convention," said Comic-Con Chief Communications and Strategy Officer David Glanzer.

The San Diego LGBT Pride Parade and Festival is one of the city's largest civic events with an estimated 200,000 people who watch the parade each year. According to officials, the three-day event brings in more than $11 million to the local economy.

"What started as a small march with a few dozen people is now a week of celebration, education and protest that allows San Diego LGBT Pride to serve the full spectrum of our community all year," said Fernando Lopez, Director of Operations for San Diego Pride. "Of course, San Diego Pride throws the biggest and best party in town, and the funds raised from this weekend’s Pride Festival go to toward providing Community Grants to LGBT-serving nonprofits as well as our year-round organizing, advocacy and education programs."

San Diego is consistently given a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index, which helps draw in LGBT visitors throughout the year, according to Barbra Blake, the CEO of the Greater San Diego Business Association.

"The LGBT community’s economic impact on San Diego expands far beyond Pride weekend. Each year San Diego’s LGBT consumers contributes over $10 billion to the regional economy and, as a popular LGBT vacation destination city, we host thousands of LGBT vacationers year-round, adding an additional few million to our economy," Blake said.

According to city officials, in 2016, San Diego attracted a record 34.9 million visitors who spent a record $10.4 billion at local attractions, restaurants and shops. As San Diego heads into its busiest tourism season, July and August are on pace to outperform the same months as last year.

"Events like Comic-Con and Pride showcase San Diego as a diverse and inclusive community, which are important aspects of economic development and the type of environment and workforce that makes San Diego a world-class place to run a business," said Jerry Sanders, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. "The thousands of people who come to our city for these events give a major boost to local businesses and help create jobs for San Diegans."

The Pride Parade and Festival begins July 14 and runs through July 16; Comic-Con begins July 19 (Preview Night) and lasts until July 23.

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