After year away, tourists kick off summer in San Diego

Posted at 2:33 PM, May 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-30 21:03:49-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are busy once again for Memorial weekend after being largely shut down a year ago.

Chris Cunningham wasn't sure what to expect when he and his mom flew to San Diego for Memorial weekend.

"I'm really surprised and it's really great to see everybody outside and really things are opening up, so I'm pretty optimistic," he said.

The two spent part of their Sunday at Seaport Village, among throngs of people browsing souvenir shops, walking along the waterfront, or grabbing some food at one of the eateries.

With social distancing restrictions easing amid increased vaccine distribution, the Auto Club says San Diego is once again a top tourist destination for memorial weekend.

Last year, many of those same vacations had to be canceled amid the outbreak.

"It was heart wrenching," said Diana Patrick, who owns San Diego Pier restaurant at seaport village. "It was difficult to see the employees not knowing where their next paycheck was coming from, the morale of the general public, and we did everything we could, as we could."

But things are different this year at Patrick's restaurant, where a line extended down the nearby retaining wall on Sunday.

She says the demand is so high that visits are above where they were in may 2019, the year before the pandemic.

"Just this weekend, our boardwalk and the entire Seaport Village is just alive with people with pent-up energy that they need to release and they're just happy as can be," she said. "It's beautiful to see."

Patrick said she expects things to get even better when conventions return to San Diego in August.

The Tourism Authority is expected to have hotel occupancy numbers in about a week.