SAN FRANCISCO -- The El Nino rainstorms inundating the state
were blamed for cancellations at some hotels here, but the city's
top tourism official said the bad weather is not having a
significant impact on the visitor industry overall.
A spokesman for the Hyatt Regency San Francisco said, "We're 17
days into February and no-shows and cancellations are double what
they normally are. We don't ask why people cancel, but we suppose
it has something to do with the weather."
Steve Pinetti, senior vice president for the Kimpton Group,
which operates a dozen small hotels in San Francisco, said, "I know
business has been lost because of the weather, but [our business]
is up overall for this winter." He would not disclose cancellation
But spokesmen for city and state tourist agencies see no reason
for alarm. "We're getting very wet, but in terms of business, there
has been no effect," said John Marks, president of the San
Francisco Convention of Visitors Bureau. "There's been a lot of
negative publicity, but conventions and leisure travelers are
Neither the bureau nor the California Division of Tourism had
figures showing the impact on visitor numbers.
Northern California has taken the brunt of El Nino, which
brought record-breaking rains in January and February, causing
massive mud slides and flooding. Highway 1 at Big Sur will remain
closed at least through February, according to the California
Division of Transportation.
Amtrak, which suspended service on some major routes during the
worst of the storms, said it is back in full operation.
Gray Line of San Francisco was forced to cancel its sightseeing
programs to the Napa/Sonoma wine country, Muir Woods, Yosemite and
Monterey/Carmel during certain periods in the last few weeks. As of
last week, all tours were operating as scheduled, except for the
portion of the Monterey/Carmel tour that visits the 17-Mile Drive
on the Monterey Peninsula. That drive remains closed to
motorcoaches due to storm damage.
Despite the storms -- and some predictions that wet weather will
continue through April -- future bookings remain strong, said
Anders Carter, reservations manager for Gray Line. "A lot of people
ask about the rain, but we haven't really had cancellations because
of it," he said.
A spokeswoman for Pier 39, the shopping center near Fisherman's
Wharf, San Francisco's largest attraction, said the center may have
lost customers from the suburbs or outlying areas who make day
trips to San Francisco.
Although Pier 39 continues to attract crowds, she said, "I think
the only people who are really doing well are the video