San Diego hotels recovering from pandemic downturn

Recovery from two-year pandemic shutdown not complete, but 2022 uptick promising

San Diego County Lodging Association’s 2023 Hotel Economic Forecast predicts that the region’s hotels are poised to continue their recovery from nearly two years of pandemic shutdowns, welcoming business and convention travelers who are choosing Southern California over other destinations.

“We are recovering, but we’re not recovered yet,” said Fred Tayco, Executive Director of the San Diego County Lodging Association. “We’re cautiously bullish that business and convention travelers will make San Diego County their preferred destination in 2023, just like leisure travelers did in the second half of 2021 and throughout 2022.”

SDCLA partnered with the San Diego Tourism Authority and RAR Hospitality to produce the 2023 Hotel Economic Forecast. Analysis of the 2023 forecast data suggests San Diego hotels are likely to see:

  • Business and convention travel increase 9.8 percent over 2022, but be 10 percent below 2019.
  • Leisure travel decrease slightly by 0.8 percent from 2022’s rebound spike but still be 3.0 percent above 2019 as financial concerns, rising borrowing costs, a looming recession, and increased competitive pressures from other destinations each have an impact.
  • Fewer overall guests – compared to pre-pandemic numbers – yet those guests are likely to stay longer.
  • Staffing stabilization as hotels hire and train new workers to match occupancy demands and adjust to increased labor and supply costs.
  • Travelers select San Diego over other California regions that were slower to re-open.

“Next year may provide a period of transition for San Diego hotels as they adjust to new travel patterns and bring on new employees,” said Nate Kelley, Director of Research for the SDTA, and one of two authors of SDCLA’s 2023 Economic Forecast.

“San Diego’s attractiveness for travelers in 2023 will be its diversity – many places to stay, many places to go – that meet any budget,” said Robert Rauch, President and CEO of RAR Hospitality and the other author of SDCLA’s 2023 Economic Forecast. “There aren’t a lot of other destination places that can say that.”

December USA hotel snapshot

U.S. hotel performance came in lower than the previous week and showed weakened comparisons to 2019 on the unfavorable side of a holiday calendar shift, according to STR‘s latest data through 24 December. At the same time, occupancy on the 24th was the highest for any Christmas Eve on record.

18-24 December 2022 (percentage change from comparable week in 2019*):

  • Occupancy: 43.9% (-9.7%)
  • Average daily rate (ADR): US$132.29 (+2.3%)
  • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): US$58.04 (-7.6%)

Christmas Eve occupancy came in at 43.6%, which topped the previous high established in 2021.

The corresponding week in 2019 ended on 28 December, which brought performance up for that overall period.

Inn at Rancho Santa Fe/Ben Sevier

San Diego travel inks and facts


Latest Weekly Hotel Performance (STR)

Latest Monthly Hotel Performance (STR)

Hotel Development

TOT Collection


  • The visitor industry directly and indirectly employs 199,800 San Diegans.
  • Visitors spend nearly $11.6 billion annually.
  • San Diego hosts nearly 35.1 million visitors each year, and is a top U.S. travel destination.
  • The industry generates $848 million annually in state and local transient occupancy, sales, and property taxes.

For more of the facts about the industry, see General Facts.


An overview of industry volume and performance, including visitors, attraction attendance, air arrivals, hotel performance and other key industry metrics



The San Diego Visitor Profile Study is conducted every other year to track the characteristics of the market and the traveler. Of the 35.1 million total visitors to San Diego County in 2019, roughly half (17.9 million) stayed overnight in a hotel, a private home, or other accommodations. It is possible to purchase further detail from the study to support your marketing efforts given that the study sample is large enough for your needs and the questions are relevant. The next update to the profile will be available summer 2023.



Story by Fred Tayco, Executive Director San Diego County Lodging Association. The San Diego County Lodging Association is the leading resource and advocate for San Diego’s more than 560 hotels, motels and boutique inns that employ more than 26,900 colleagues. SDCLA, established in 1980, works tireless to serve the needs of our members and represent them at all levels of government. For more information, go to

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