Nearly 35 million tourists visited San Diego in 2016 - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Nearly 35 million tourists visited San Diego in 2016

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Major League Baseball All-Star Game and other major events lured record numbers of tourists to the San Diego region last year, the Tourism Authority announced Thursday.

The agency reported 34.9 million visitors to San Diego in 2016, up from 34.2 million the year before. The out-of-towners spent a record $10.4 billion on locla hotels, restaurants, attractions and shops, or $500 million more than in 2015.

"As a visitor destination, San Diego has never been more popular," said San Diego Tourism Authority President and CEO Joe Terzi. "Not only do we boast some of the nation's most popular attractions like the San Diego Zoo and the USS Midway Museum, but more and more visitors are coming here to experience our welcoming neighborhoods and unique culture, while getting a taste of our diverse dining scene and award-winning craft beer."

The Amgen Tour of California bicycle race and Comic-Con International were also instrumental in recording the big numbers, according to the SDTA.

To keep the momentum going, the agency launched a $12.4 million advertising campaign last month, with television, print and digital spots. The campaign is based on the "Happiness is Calling" video ad, but with updated footage and a new song that expresses "That Summer Feeling."

Television ads will air in San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle, Dallas, Chicago and New York City, and digital ads are being run in Canada and the United Kingdom in the first quarter.

San Diego's brand will also be seen on the pages of Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit and other magazines, as well as on travel websites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia and Priceline.

Ads will also be run to support new international flights routes to San Diego that will start this year -- from Frankfurt, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland.

SDTA officials said this year's numbers could see a further boost thanks to next month's World Baseball Classic games at Petco Park, the Red Bull Air Race World Series in April, the opening round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament in July, a sailing race in October and the Breeder's Cup horse races in November.

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