House OKs bill to create DMO, moves to Senate
The Puerto Rico House on Monday approved a bill submitted by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló that seeks to create a Destination Marketing Organization to improve tourism promotional efforts for the island.
The bill was scrutinized in public hearings headed by the House Tourism Commission, where it will undergo additional adjustments to ensure its success, La Fortaleza officials confirmed.
“This piece is an essential element in the Plan for Puerto Rico to boost our economic activity through tourism,” said José Izquierdo, Tourism Co. executive director.
The bill now returns to the Senate for final approval.
The Plan for Puerto Rico details the creation of a private nonprofit corporation that will feature a wide participation of the public and private sectors. This entity will develop a destination brand to promote Puerto Rico, attract visitors and increase global exposure of the island. At present, the Tourism Co. and Meet Puerto Rico perform this task.
As part of the amendments, the composition of the DMO’s Board of Directors is expanded to achieve greater participation of various sectors with experience and knowledge relevant to the functions of the proposed entity. In addition, the measure now ensures that the institution has an adequate budget for its establishment.
Rep. Néstor Alonso, who chairs the House Tourism Commission, expressed satisfaction with the approval of the measure after receiving broad multi-sectoral participation.
“I am very satisfied with my contribution and my team’s effort. I am convinced that with the approval of this measure and the creation of our DMO, we will begin to develop Puerto Rico as a brand, as well as tourism as a fundamental pillar of our economic development,” Alonso said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Miguel Romero, who chairs that legislative body’s Government Affairs Commission — and who examined the bill when it initially arrived at the Capitol — the amendments passed at the House are in line with the governor’s vision to strengthen the role of the private component and with tourism’s expertise in the DMO Board.
“I must highlight the importance and role on the board of people who know how to develop tourism and the visitor economy is the best way for us to be efficient in the development of strategies to be implemented,” Romero said,
“In addition, it gives confidence to the private tourism sector, something important that emerged from participation in public hearings,” he added.
Meanwhile, Miguel Vega, president of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, welcomed the legislature’s willingness to listen to the industry’s recommendations.
“We believe it’s important that the measure is approved with the amendments agreed to in the process in the House with La Fortaleza and we look forward to a quick approval at the Senate,” Vega said.
The PRHTA “is ready to contribute its knowledge and experience to the DMO to develop tourism through strategies that respond to the realities and demands of the market and not subject to political whims,” said Vega.
Jon Borschow, president of Foundation for Puerto Rico, also expressed satisfaction with the bill and the amendments made.
“We hope this exercise of dialogue serves as an example and model for Puerto Rico to move together to a new and more prosperous future,” Borschow said.
“Working together we can achieve the widest exposure of Puerto Rico as a destination and use the visitor economy to achieve progress in all sectors of the island,” he said. “We recognize the genuine commitment of the governor to incorporate the nonprofit sector in this and other projects.”
Meet Puerto Rico President Milton Segarra said the amendments introduced in the House have strengthened the project.
“We’re committed to this initiative and are available to begin contributing to the multi-sectoral effort as soon as the governor signs it,” Segarra said.
On Monday, Ramón Rosario, Public Affairs and Public Policy Secretary, predicted the governor will make this bill into law “soon.”