A 55% increase in tourist demand compared to last year, a 14% increase in airport arrivals vs. 2018, a 11.8% increase in lodging revenues vs. 2017, a secured economic impact of $92 million in meetings and conventions bookings, were some of the highlights presented by Destination Marketing Organization Discover Puerto Rico to the Puerto Rico Fiscal Oversight Management Board during a hearing.
“We’re extremely proud of the results we have achieved during our first year of operation, which positions us to obtain a record-breaking year in 2019,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico.
“With a culture of organizational excellence, improving brand health that translates in efficiency and effectiveness of our marketing efforts, and results-driven initiatives which contribute to Puerto Rico’s economic growth, we are confident that our goal to fast-track the visitor economy will be met,” he said.
During the hearing, Dean presented the initiatives Discover Puerto Rico has implemented to make the local operation 43% more efficient than the average DMO.
These included a “rigorous, unbiased process” of contracting and hiring, which resulted in more than 80% of the employees being Puerto Rican, establishing alliances with 27 content creators on the Island to achieve a robust and resourceful library of current, high quality assets, and partnerships with 65 local business leaders who are actively collaborating with the DMO.
With regards to the marketing and promotional efforts, Dean explained there has been a “significant improvement in perception post Hurricane María with 17% increase from travelers and 412% increase from meeting planners.”
Also, more than 11.5 billion earned media impressions have been obtained, 78 media/influencer visits (85% of those outside San Juan metro area) and 30 accolades from top-tier media including The New York Times naming Puerto Rico the #1 Place to Go in 2019.
Discover Puerto Rico’s Google Content Initiative replaced 940 outdated photos of hurricane damage and closed businesses and drove 10 million views to new assets, he said.
These initiatives have a direct impact on Puerto Rico’s economic growth. Airport arrivals have increased 14% compared to 2018, with 2.59 million passengers from January to July 2019.
Lodging revenues from hotels and independent rentals have increased 11.8% vs, 2017 setting a record revenue pace. Also, the industry is seeing a 55% increase in tourism demand vs. 2018 and an 89% increase in independent rentals.
The Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Events segment “is experiencing historical numbers,” said Dean.
It has locked down $92 million in economic impact with bookings, improved MICE conversion rate by 121% — the highest in five years — and increased the sales pipeline by $132 million (an 83% increase,) according to the data presented.
“While we’re extremely proud of what we have accomplished in our first year, it is critical to ensure we continue to have the right resources to build on this momentum and strong start,” said Dean.
“We’ve put all our resources to work and have barely scratched the surface of the potential of what tourism can do to drive economic development,” he added.