Crime cluster could hurt tourism

A recent string of violence afflicting San Francisco’s tourism hot spots, including a stabbing Tuesday night near Fisherman’s Wharf, raised concerns about whether The City’s most lucrative industry will take a hit.

Tourism generates more local tax revenue and jobs than any other industry in San Francisco. Visitors spent some $21.5 million daily last year, pumping $426 million in taxes into city coffers and employing nearly 67,000 people, according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The continued success of the industry is contingent upon whether out-of-towners consider The City to be safe. With sightseeing visitors getting shot, beat up or killed in a spate of well-publicized incidents this summer, there’s a fear that the old saying, “I left my heart in San Francisco,” might be a reality.

Violence affecting city visitors surged this month. The most shocking was the killing of a 50-year-old German tourist during a wild shootout in bustling streets near Union Square on Aug. 8. Five days later, another German visitor, a 22-year-old man from Berlin, died after an alleged hit-and-run accident at the intersection of Masonic Avenue and Turk Street.

Then early Saturday morning, two Peninsula visitors on a second date were viciously beaten and robbed as they took in the views from Coit Tower. On Tuesday night, a 26-year-old man was stabbed while in the Fisherman’s Wharf area.

And, few will soon forget the Pink Saturday stunner in late June where a gunman opened fire in a crowd, killing one and injuring
two others.

The ongoing spate of violence has the victim in the Coit Tower attack warning out-of-towners to stay away from San Francisco at night.

“These incidents are happening over and over and over again,” said the victim, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear for her safety.

On Wednesday, in response to the violence, Mayor Gavin Newsom told The Examiner that The City has recently taken “substantial” measures to boost safety in Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square. But he said overall crime is down in San Francisco.

“I’m not at the point where I can say, ‘Oh, my God, the tourism industry in The City is going to be dramatically harmed,’” Newsom said. “But we have to make sure people know that they are safe when they come here.”

Coit Tower victim warns visitors

A victim of a vicious attack at Coit Tower last weekend told The Examiner on Wednesday that she is stunned at recent violence in populated tourist areas of The City and is advising folks to stay away from San Francisco at night.

The Redwood City woman said her second date with a Sunnyvale man was going well Friday night until thugs beat and robbed them without warning. Her date, who was knocked unconscious in the attack and whose jaw was broken in two places, remains in the
hospital, she said.

Due to safety concerns, the victims did not want their names used.

The victim said she is telling her story to warn visitors not to come to The City at night.

“That’s a nice area,” she said. “These incidents are happening over and over and over again.”

The silver lining is that her date was going well up until the attack, and there will be a third date on the horizon, she said.

“This is something that’s not going to affect our relationship,” she said. “It’s going to affect where we choose to share some time together. I don’t think San Francisco is on the top of our list.”

Recent attacks in The City’s tourism hubs

Pink Saturday gunfire
When: 11:30 p.m. June 26     Where: Castro and Market streets
What: A shooting in the Castro district during pride celebrations killed 19-year-old Stephen Powell after he was shot in the chest.

German tourist shot to death
When: 9 p.m. Aug. 8     Where: 400 Mason St.
What: Mechthild Schröer, 50, of Minden, Germany, was returning to her Union Square hotel following a stroll with her husband when she was caught in the crossfire between several gunmen.

Coit Tower attack
When: 1:30 a.m. Aug. 21         Where: Coit Tower, Pioneer Park
What: A Sunnyvale man and Redwood City woman were taking in the views on the wall surrounding the parking lot when they were brutally attacked and robbed.

Fisherman’s Wharf stabbing
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 24         Where: 500 block of Francisco Street
What: A 26-year-old man was knifed while in the Fisherman's Wharf area following an argument with two people.

Can’t get enough crime stories? Check out The Examiner’s new Law & Disorder Crime Blog.

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