Experts expect little impact of gas prices on local tourism


SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Despite gas prices surging to record highs, experts say San Diego’s tourism industry is in a unique position to withstand the challenge.

“It’s actually not going to be as bad as you’d think,” says Carl Winston, Director of San Diego State University’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.

Winston says the tourist destinations that are likely to get hit hard are those that require long drives or flights for most travelers. However, he says the biggest segment of San Diego’s visitors drive here from locations that are not especially far away.

“Driving all the way across country or flying all the way across country just got a lot more expensive, but San Diego is just 100 miles from Los Angeles. It’s a few gallons of gas to get here and home. Historically, the data don’t suggest that will be terrible for us,” said Winston.

Local hotel owner Bob Rauch says tourism travel is now back to pre-pandemic levels and he does not anticipate the surge in gas prices slowing the boom down.

“I know some people have referred to it as revenge travel. I think it’s really just people wanting to get out, see family, see friends, make trips to visit places, take their kids places,” said Rauch.

Rauch says his San Diego hotels have not seen any impact yet due to the rise in gas prices, with family travelers from Los Angeles, Northern California, Las Vegas, and Phoenix still booking road trip vacations to visit local beaches.

While the steep increase in gas price will stretch travel budgets, Rauch doesn’t expect an extra $40 or $60 will be a deal-breaker.

“It’s not going to derail their trip. Just a little more pain,” Rauch said.

Both Rauch and Winston suggested their could be a tipping point for some travelers, but said it would be hard to predict exactly what price that would be.


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