Mayor London Breed Celebrates First Year of Welcome Ambassador Program

Award-winning program has promoted a welcoming and positive experience Downtown and in tourist areas, and is expanding as part of Mayor’s new investments in street ambassadors
November 02, 2022

San Francisco, CA – Today Mayor London N. Breed joined Supervisor Matt Dorsey, business and community leaders for the inaugural celebration of San Francisco’s Welcome Ambassador program. Officially launched in October 2021, the program is supported by the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District (SFTID) in partnership with the San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA).    

As part of Mayor Breed’s Downtown Recovery Plan, the SF Welcome Ambassadors, who wear distinctive orange jackets with a depiction of the Golden Gate Bridge, provide a welcoming and positive experience in the City’s downtown and tourist areas by engaging and connecting with visitors and office workers. In addition to being stationed in key tourism and commuting areas, Welcome Ambassadors assist at events such as conventions, cruise ship arrivals, and festivals.    

Last month, the SF Welcome Ambassador Program received the “Visitor Experience Award” from the California Travel Association (CalTravel). CalTravel Awards recognize individuals and organizations whose leadership efforts have significantly impacted California’s travel and tourism industry. The SF Welcome Ambassador Program was honored for its consistent and high-quality guest services, unique experiences, and customer value, elevating California’s reputation to inspire more visitors to the state.  

"Our Welcome Ambassadors program have made a real difference for visitors, workers, and residents in our City,” said Mayor London Breed. “We’ve heard from small business owners, conventions, retailers, neighborhood groups, and so many more about how these ambassadors are changing the feeling in our Downtown and tourist areas. This is all part of our plan to make San Francisco a safer and more welcoming City for all.”   

The Mayor and City leaders recently announced the expansion of community ambassadors and civilian police department personnel to help improve public safety in San Francisco, to include adding 50 more ambassadors to the SF Welcome Ambassador program. In total, the expansion will add up to 150 new ambassadors and attendants, which are expected to be a mix of Mid-Market/Tenderloin Safety Ambassadors, orange jacketed SF Welcome Ambassadors, BART service attendants, and SFPD Community Ambassadors.   

Currently, there are 92 Welcome Ambassadors assigned to locations throughout San Francisco, including the Ferry Building, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero, Chinatown, North Beach, Market Street, Moscone Center, the East Cut, Union Square and Cable Car turnarounds. The San Francisco Tourism Improvement District manages the program through a grant from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD).   

“Since launching the Welcome Ambassadors program last fall, we’ve seen visible public safety improvements in San Francisco’s downtown and South of Market neighborhoods, and I’ve heard from countless residents about the positive impacts for neighbors and tourists alike,” said District 6 Supervisor, Matt Dorsey. “As we enter the second year of the program, I hope we continue to find ways to invest in robust ambassador teams, safety initiatives, and street cleanliness programs that benefit us all.”    

Over the last year, the SF Welcome Ambassadors program has built on the successes of City-Community partnerships with Community Benefit Districts that focus efforts on community engagement. The ambassadors are tasked with daily coordination with other City programs, such as Urban Alchemy Ambassadors and SFPD Community Ambassadors.   

“The Mayor’s signature effort to support the City’s recovery through the deployment of Welcome Ambassadors throughout San Francisco, and in the heart of the city, Union Square, has made such a difference,” said Marisa Rodriguez Executive Director of the Union Square Alliance. “This effort promotes a friendly environment for all to enjoy when they are visiting our tourism centers. Programs like these help our City recover and thrive post Covid.”   

“Human interaction is a powerful tool that makes people feel more connected,” said Kate Sofis, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “Our Welcome Ambassadors continue to make a huge impact for people walking in and around our downtown. From guiding people to local businesses and attractions to making recommendations to restaurants and bars, every interaction from our Welcome Ambassadors helps people feel welcomed and safe which benefits our overall economic recovery. These types of connections are what drive people to want to come back to our downtown and to San Francisco and our office is thrilled to offer this experience.”   

Welcome Ambassadors keep track of their interactions with visitors and residents to measure impact and results. As of November 1, 2022, the ambassadors tracked over 4 million interactions with members of the public. Over the last year, SF Welcome Ambassadors have given:  

  • Directions over 250,000 times  
  • Information about City attractions and museums to over 100,000 people  
  • Business information over 57,00 times  
  • Over 20,000 hospitality escorts  
  • Restaurant recommendations nearly 14,000 times  

“The Welcome Ambassador Program has successfully achieved its mission to create a warm and welcoming experience for visitors and commuters. It’s also been a resounding success with meeting planners and crucial in helping bring back conventions to San Francisco,” said San Francisco Travel Association President and CEO Joe D’Alessandro. “I want to thank our ambassadors for all they do. We’ve received wonderful feedback from visitors, local businesses and industry partners on their great work.”   

“Our Welcome Ambassadors are incredible representatives for San Francisco. They share their love for this city enthusiastically with everyone they meet and make a positive impact on each person they connect with or assist daily,” said Mandy Hall, Director of the SF Welcome Ambassador Program. “The hundreds of emails received from visitors, local business owners and residents are a testament to the great work they have been doing for the past year. It is a privilege to be working with them and for this program.”  

A few examples of feedback received about SF Welcome Ambassadors   

“One of the really great things about San Francisco is the willingness of the community and the travel and tourism community to come together to throw an event. And the Welcome Ambassadors that have been out and about welcoming our guests here to San Francisco have just been incredible. All of the programs to really make the city beautiful and what’s in place and how much care comes from the city to make those experiences wonderful as you’re going about the city and experiencing the unique vibe and culture that San Francisco has, has really wowed us and our attendees.” – Thomas Amaral, Senior Director & Head of Global Event Operations, Informa Tech.   

Welcome Ambassador Program called a “shining star” by Stuart Ruff-Lyon, RISKWORLD 2022 Vice President, Events and Exhibitions.   

“I could not be more excited about the SF welcome ambassador mission that has launched in SF. I lived here for 7 years and moved away during COVID. I came back in October and was glad I made the decision. Being back today and meeting [Welcome Ambassador] Terrence I was so thrilled at how amazing he was and this cool new thing you’ve brought to the city. Thank you!!!!!” - Kylee Piper, Senior Manager, L&D, DEIB,     

“I’m writing to let you know about the wonderful experience I had with ambassador Love this morning at the Ferry Building. Even though I’m a San Franciscan, I had a question and her friendly demeanor made it easy for me to approach her with it.  Once we started talking, she exuded warmth and knowledge about my question.  We shared some laughs and as I was about to leave, she shared a wise, caring gem with me—that I matter. Please acknowledge and thank her (as well as the other ambassadors) for being an excellent representative of our beautiful city.” - Senta, SF Resident   

“It was very nice to meet & chat with Evan on the corner of Spear and Market streets. Just the fact that his being here in San Francisco today to greet me made a big difference in my visit to the Ferry Building. Feeling safer is very important to me.” - Hollie, SF Resident   

“I’m visiting San Francisco from West Palm Beach, Florida. Here for the [2022] Dreamforce conference. I’m very impressed with and grateful for your ambassadors. They have proactively helped me out already a few times, starting from when I first got off BART on arrival. Today, Roderick in particular was super helpful, helping me figure out the cable car deal, suggesting alternative plans for the evening, and even escorting me to my bus stop. I have Google maps on my phone, but you really can’t beat a nice, friendly human! It’s making a big difference to my experience here. Thank you so much for this great service!” - Tara  

More information about the City’s SF Welcome Ambassador Program may be found here.