Tipping points, Tourism and the U.S.S. Midway

Will yesteryday’s permanent docking of the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier on the San Diego waterfront be the tourism bonanza its promoters hope? Certainly, downtown San Diego is in the middle of a massive rebuilding boom, with everything from condo complexes, to a baseball stadium, to general gentrification.

Supporters are forecasting 400,000 tourists in the ship’s first year on the harbor. At $10 per person, that is, of course, $4,000,000 in gross receipts. Brought down to a more meaningful level of analysis, that means around 1,100 people per day, or about 136 per hour visit the ship. While that might seem low, it is considerably better than any other attraction does in the area, so it would certainly require a gestalt shift — a tipping point, if you will — in the way people think about tourism in downtown San Diego.

So, here is the real question for true-blue supporters: Will the Midway create the tourism tipping point, will it be the consequence of one — or is it all merely wishful thinking?