More than 3.5 million people visited Oakland in 2015

More than 3.5 million people visited Oakland in 2015, spending $795 million and supporting more than 7,000 jobs, officials with the city’s tourism marketing agency Visit Oakland announced Thursday.

The data will serve as a benchmark to see how tourism changes in the future.

Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement:

“Tourism is a proven economic driver, supporting our local businesses and creating jobs for Oaklanders, and therefore, it is important that we continue to meet the growing demand of travelers interested in exploring Oakland.”

Visit Oakland president and CEO Mark Everton said:

“I thinks it’s indicative to how important tourism is to Oakland.”

Roughly one-quarter of the $795 million was spent on lodging, while three-quarters was spent at large and small businesses such as retail shops and restaurants and bars, Everton said.

About 20 percent was spent specifically on food and beverage, according to Everton.

Tourism officials said about 1 in 29 jobs in Oakland are hospitality jobs, amounting to payroll of $256 million and the number of those jobs jumped 12 percent between 2012 and 2015. That outpaced every other industry in the city, according to tourism officials.

Everton said 58 percent of the $795 million was spent by people who came for part of a day, while 42 percent was spent by visitors who stayed overnight.

But that 42 percent could be higher since demand for hotel rooms has been greater than supply in recent years, with only 5,000 hotel rooms available as of 2015. Visit Oakland spokeswoman Frances Wong said more hotels are planned, but none have broken ground.

Because of the limited supply, the average daily cost of a room rose 13 percent to $135 between 2014 and 2015, providing an increase in city tax revenues of $3 million.

About 64 percent of visitors to Oakland in 2015 traveled to the city for leisure, according to Visit Oakland officials. Wong said many come for what she called “bleisure,” in which travelers come for business and then decide to stay another night or two.

To increase the number of visitors, tourism officials started what they’ve called Oakland Spotlight, which aims to get people to visit individual neighborhoods.

Also, next month, Visit Oakland officials will launch Oakland Ale Trail to highlight craft breweries in the city. The trail will complement Oakland Urban Wine, which promotes visits to Oakland’s urban wineries.

Everton said:

“Oakland has so many rich offerings…We look forward to encouraging even more people to experience Oakland’s diverse neighborhoods, unique cultural attractions, delicious restaurants and one-of-a-kind shopping boutiques.”