WTO: Groups, conventions are economic engines
The World Tourism Organization released its latest Global Report on the Meetings Industry in which validates that from the 1,087 million international tourists recorded in 2013, between 20 and 22 percent traveled for business reasons, standing firmly as one of the main development engines of the tourism industry and an important source of income, employment and investments.
Milton Segarra, president of Meet Puerto Rico, the organization that is responsible for attracting meetings, conventions, trade shows and incentive groups to the island, said the WTO announcement is “very positive” and that this trend is validated in Puerto Rico.
“The groups and conventions segment in Puerto Rico continues to be a major component in the tourism industry. Meet Puerto Rico marketing efforts is estimated at 187,500 hotel room nights, with an impact of $105.1 million in the local economy,” he said, adding that one in four rooms occupied in hotels that can accommodate large-scale meetings belongs to the groups and conventions segment.
In its report, the WTO also highlights the importance of the meetings industry to contribute to the reduction of seasonality, generating a higher level of spending, regional development and job creation. It also notes that travel and tourism is not just a matter of product, but a compilation of elements that constitute an experience for the traveler.
“The meetings and convention segment has evolved toward the integration of the destination. Participants want to have different experiences, knowing what the destination offers in terms of its culture, history, cuisine and entertainment,” Segarra said. “In Puerto Rico we have that and more to escape the conventional.”
The report also said business tourism should not be classified as a single type of tourism, but as an integrated offer, with new formats and concepts with added value to business meetings. It is established that in the midst of changes where the sector is required to investigate, experiment, and renew the use of relevant experiences.
Segarra said Meet Puerto Rico’s new approach is aligned with the WTO’s new trend.
“This year we launched a new corporate branding and vision, in which we focus more on the destination, as one that has everything you need to have a successful meeting or convention, but with the advantage that it’s done on a tropical island in the Caribbean,” he noted.