More than a handful of local tourism leaders gathered for a panel discussion hosted by the Foundation for Puerto Rico concurred there is a need for a multi-sector tourism statistics database to be able to gauge the visitor economy and its economic impact.
During the “Perspectives on the Visitor Economy,” Tourism Co. Executive Director Ingrid Rivera-Rocafort, Clarisa Jiménez, president of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, Milton Segarra, executive director of Meet Puerto Rico; Federico Stubbe, vice president of the Puerto Rico Builders Association’s Tourism Council; Osvaldo Gelabert, tourism professor at the American University in Fajardo; and Raul Bustamante, president of the Tourism Committee of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, discussed the nonprofit’s proposals.
In its “Visitor Economy: From Knowledge to Action” study, the Foundation for Puerto Rico proposes the adoption of the “visitor economy” concept, which defines the differences between a traveler, a tourist and an excursionist, and exposes the lack of data available and the need for updates to measure the effectiveness of executed strategies. All of the panelists agreed for the need for both aspects.
Jiménez said the biggest challenge the island has is that “people don’t speak the language of tourism. We need to achieve a common language that allows us to begin to strategize and develop it.”
“We need statistics to prove that the tourist who comes to Puerto Rico today has changed. Now visitors are looking for cheap stuff and we have many high-end products in Puerto Rico,” Jiménez said.
Meanwhile, Segarra said the data is important because it helps to focus and align strategies to generate new demand.
“Even with a shy 3 percent to 4 percent growth in net visitors, we would achieve a significant growth in our economy,” he said.
The Foundation for Puerto Rico will be convening another gathering to begin working on the database.