Looking Forward – A Message from Joe Terzi

We’ve had great success over the past year and now is the time to continue that momentum. Thinking outside the box with big, bold ideas will ensure the San Diego Tourism Authority keeps its reputation as a leader in the industry. It also keeps San Diego top of mind as the preferred vacation and meeting destination for nearly 35 million visitors per year.

The SDTA annual meeting was our chance to catch up with industry colleagues, reflect on many great achievements, and celebrate the power of tourism as one unified group. The value that our industry brings to the economic well-being of our destination can’t be understated. It is substantial. And the taxes generated support jobs and public services for residents of the greater San Diego region.

The SDTA team has embarked on five big initiatives to help reach our goals.


With a projected $47M operational budget funded by the Tourism Marketing District, we will strategically market San Diego in eight key countries in North America, Europe and Asia. Anticipating new international air service, we will support the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation in promoting direct flights and new service to the destination.  In partnership with Visit California and Brand USA, we will continue to position San Diego as a “best of California” and “not-to-be-missed American destination.”


In this hyper-connected, media-savvy marketplace, San Diego must be present 24/7 365 days a year.  Whether on business or family vacation, travelers are looking for a richer, more intimate experience. Research shows increased interest in learning about neighborhoods and the chance to “live like a local.”  Instagram-worthy images that are shareable and inspirational are a must. With the proliferation of online and offline media channels, there are many ways to share the depth and breadth of the San Diego story. Through an “always on” strategy, we can capture that experience and expand our visitor’s knowledge about San Diego’s Cali-Baja culture, Tony award-winning theatres, world-class attractions, and stunning Pacific beaches.


Our hotel inventory is growing, again.  Over the next three years, San Diego will see a significant increase in supply. We have a plan in place to develop relationships with new meeting groups, new sports groups, and new niches like medical tourism to bring recurring events to the destination. In addition, expanded advertising to new markets will target leisure travelers throughout the year and deliver greater economic benefit to SDTA Member-businesses.


Major events like The Breeders’ Cup, Extreme Sailing, and KAABOO are high-profile tourism drivers which don’t require bricks and mortar. These events raise our city’s profile and make San Diego even more buzz-worthy.  With increased demand, we need improved infrastructure.  We must expand and modernize San Diego Convention Center to stay competitive. The Seaport project is a game changer for our waterfront. Continuing to improve our transportation infrastructure from rail, trolley, airport, freeways, and port benefits us all. We must advocate for infrastructure that benefits tourism, fits our community, and allows all to prosper.


In January, we began an exciting new partnership with the Legler Benbough Foundation to implement a broad-based plan to elevate exposure and awareness of Balboa Park. Thanks to incremental funding from the San Diego Tourism Marketing District, we are also launching a new project with National Geographic this fall which will promote Balboa Park to an international audience.  Called “Exploring Paradise,” National Geographic will be sharing the story of Balboa Park and San Diego as an example of how great cities develop and thrive. Promotion of Balboa Park gives travelers more reasons to visit San Diego, or to stay longer.  Balboa Park is a national treasure and it’s time to tell that story to the world.

These are exciting times for the destination. New and renovated hotels, expanded attractions, additional international flights, growing media coverage, and increased awareness of iconic events are all driving new business to San Diego. I am confident our team of dedicated professionals, in partnership with stakeholders from across the region, will embrace the challenge of inspiring visitors. Your dedication to sharing the San Diego experience with the world is why we’ll always be known as a world’s best destination.

Here’s to a great new year!

Joe Terzi

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