Local tourism peaks this week

This is the week our region's business owners, large and small, look forward to with great anticipation.

Wednesday in Del Mar the thoroughbreds start running, and the following day, Comic-Con opens at the Convention Center.

It's Christmas in July for many city and country businesses when, in the same week, Del Mar goes off and an internationally known event inhabits Downtown San Diego.

Midday in the Gaslamp Quarter is busy early in the week, but nothing like the teeming costumed masses that will descend here in the coming days.  And the hotels in which the Klingons, wookies and super heroes stay in are not confined to Downtown.

“It's a big enough crowd that, you know what, it affects everything in San Diego, not just Downtown.  The hotels in Pacific Beach and La Jolla (will be) filled to capacity just for this one event alone,” said Brandy Shimabukuro with the Gaslamp Quarter Association.

Farther north, the business people in Del Mar, Solana Beach and the rest of the North County coast are eagerly awaiting opening day of the horse races.

“Thoroughbred racing is part of the history of Del Mar, it's a very popular event, getting more popular every year.  The hotels fill up, the restaurants fill up,” said Del Mar Mayor Don Moiser.

Comic-Con, people-wise, involves more than just the 125,000 pop culture enthusiasts who managed to get one of the precious badges to a sold out four day show.

“We're getting tweets from London and South Africa, this is definitely international press in terms of media, as well as a face-to-face media presence,” said Shimabukuro.

Factor in the locals who simply want to sit or stroll the Gaslamp just to people-watch and you can understand Comic-Con's $163 million economic impact on the region.

Not just hotels and restaurants, but other businesses, too, especially if you are a specialty retailer, such as the Chuck Jones Gallery.

“Our business actually quadruples over Comic-Con,” said Gallery Director Mike Dicken.

The animation gallery, named for the legendary Warner Brothers animation creator and director, normally opens at 10 a.m. each day.  This week it will be filled with convention goers as early as 7:30 a.m.

“It is a spectacle, I guess, but it's a great time… everyone has so much fun, it's just a great time,” Dicken said.

Thoroughbred horse racing may be struggling as an industry, but not during the Del Mar meet.

“This is a premier horse racing venue, it's more popular every day than any horse racing venue in the United States,” Mayor Moiser said.

Many hotels and motels in the area exceed 90% occupancy.  Watching the horses go generates some $90 million to the region every year.

Worth mentioning again, Comic-Con is covered by press from all over the world.

And then there's the convention's residual effect.

Visitors, especially those making their first trip to San Diego, want to come back, and they do throughout the year.

Categories: KUSI