HomeChinese AmericanSF says APEC forum will boost Chinatown tourism, calming fears

SF says APEC forum will boost Chinatown tourism, calming fears

Picked to host the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, San Francisco is bringing in a huge influx of international officials, professionals and businesspeople into the heart of downtown—right next to Chinatown.

San Francisco’s Municipal Transport Agency (SFMTA) is planning numerous detours in their service for the international forum’s security, disrupting the usual routes into Chinatown.

Included is the closure of the Central Subway which runs directly from Downtown into Chinatown. It’s part of the restricted security zone that the San Francisco Chronicle reports will force it to be shutdown.

According to ABC 7 News, those disruptions brought about concerns from Chinatown leaders about a drop in street traffic and tourism. SFMTA met with business owners and other community leaders to placate those concerns.

At the meeting, SFMTA’s Executive Director Jeffrey Tumlin assured the attendees that they’d maintain connectivity into Chinatown during the conference and that the thousands of visitors it’s bringing to the city will patronize Chinatown businesses.

SFMTA published a list of the reroutes, which will ultimately impact 18 lines, including bus, tram, and cable car lines. Especially important to Chinatown is the T line, which runs from Chinatown to Oracle Park, home of the SF Giants.

To compensate, Tumlin promised extra-frequent shuttle trains running between Union Square, Market Street Station and Chinatown, and to replace the T line with shuttle busses.

Other security measures planned include parking restrictions, law enforcement cordons and searches, and designating the APEC Leaders’ Summit as a National Special Security Event so extra federal resources can be used for security.

Members of the Chinatown Merchant’s Association attended the meeting, including chairperson Eva Lee. She is hopeful about the impact the APEC conference will have on Chinatown, expecting it to bring new visitors.

Even though attendees might be more focused on the economic debates at the conference than San Fransisco’s culture and city life, Lee hopes many of the 30-50,000 people expected to visit during APEC will spread out looking for dining, retail and entertainment.

Speaking to ABC7 News, she said the city government is going to “Have a cable car at Moscone Center where people can take pictures, so there that can remind them to go visit the rest of the city.”

The conference will be the largest meeting of world leaders in San Francisco since the UN Charter was signed in 1945 in the Herbst Theater of the Veterans Building, which Lee said makes APEC a great opportunity to reintroduce San Francisco to the world.

“We are probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” Lee praised San Francisco. “We should all take that to heart, and this is our time.”

APEC includes 21 member economies around the Pacific Rim, including major economies and regional powers like the US, Russia, China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

With APEC bringing so many visitors from countries on the Pacific rim, SF’s Chinatown might also be especially poised to attract attendees looking for a taste of Chinese American culture, such a key part of the city’s connections to Asia. However, whether the economic and political leaders headed to APEC will be interested in patronizing many of Chinatown’s businesses remains to be seen.

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