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Sunday, Dec 10, 2023

EDITORIAL—San Diego Gets Some ‘Foreign Aid

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about.

Concerns over the day-to-day operation of a business are a lot more complicated these days thanks to skyrocketing electric rates. Instead of concerning themselves with how to grow their business during these boom times, executives instead are fretting over merely keeping the lights on and the computers running.

The specter of a prolonged energy crisis appears more and more real every day. What’s perhaps most frightening , next to the “amount due” window on our bills , is that politicians appear hogtied, unable to stop this runaway freight train they, in fact, stoked in the first place.

This surely can’t be sitting well with business owners and executives countywide. Advocating deregulation knowing energy companies will have to compete with one another like the rest of us do is one thing. Standing helplessly on the sidelines as power utilities manipulate energy supplies and prices is quite another.

Most businesses have the resiliency to withstand infrequent calamities, but such an extended, unexpected drain on a business’ resources no doubt will quickly take a heavy toll.

As businesses scramble for ways to keep their bottom lines in the black comes the news that foreign travelers continue to flood into San Diego. A recent survey released by the U.S. Department of Commerce revealed that in 1999, some 807,000 foreign tourists , not counting those from Mexico or Canada , visited San Diego County. Capitalizing on that market could be one of the keys to keeping afloat as our electric crisis shakes itself out.

Europe remains a particularly strong tourist market for San Diego. The United Kingdom led the way, with about 132,000 visitors. Germans were second on the list with 102,000 visitors, while Japan was third with 78,000 tourists.

The survey also noted the average international visitor spent about $320 during the visit. Shopping was their No. 1 leisure activity, while about 80 percent of those surveyed considered dining out as a major activity. Visiting San Diego’s many attractions also ranked high on the list at about 56 percent.

Interestingly, the survey notes the dynamic growth in numbers of international visitors comes from a rise in business travel.

Not all the overseas travelers were here to lounge about at La Jolla Shores. Nearly 30 percent of the international visitors were here on business, with about half of that number in town for conventions or conferences.

While the window for tourism’s high season is only open for another six weeks or so, the number of travelers plus the amount of money they are spending countywide has to be encouraging to those who might be questioning whether to cut back hours to save on electricity. Couple that with the money still pouring into San Diego from domestic travelers and, for the short term anyway, many companies in town should survive through early fall.

With the pressure of an election just around the corner, politicians are feeling the heat , and not only because it’s the dog days of summer. But if we have to peg our financials on leaping from the summer season directly to the Christmas holidays, many businesses will be staring at a rather empty cornucopia later this year.

, Rick Bell


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