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Discover Puerto Rico: Hotel occupancy, airline capacity drop after tourism reopening delayed

Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s destination marketing organization, confirmed that hotel occupancy and airline capacity have dropped in the past week or so following the government’s decision to roll back the reopening of the island to visitors.

In its latest industry report, Discover Puerto Rico said that “after a month of increases in hotel occupancy following the curfew and stay-at-home orders being lifted for residents, there was a decline in occupancy the week ending July 18 after the government pulled back the reopening to off-island visitors.”

For the week of July 19, hotel bookings dropped 11.7% from two weeks earlier, and independent rental bookings fell 13% in the same period, the organization said.

Meanwhile, Discover Puerto Rico said that the delay in the re-opening for visitors also prompted airlines to decrease capacity “significantly in the past week, especially for the coming three months.”

“Airlines had been bullish about Puerto Rico in the past six weeks, even adding capacity in the fourth quarter. With the rollback of opening, capacity is being reduced through the rest of 2020,” the DMO said.

The shift in airline seat capacity aligns with consumer sentiment on travel expectations, the entity said.

“Consumers continue to anticipate road trips in the near-term, with an increasing push of air travel into 2021. There remains a segment of travelers willing to take trips on commercial airlines before the end of the calendar year, but consumers are now saying that it could be later in 2021 before they return to air travel,” according to the DMO’s report.

In the initial weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic took off, consumer expectation was to travel during the fall months.

“However, as cases have continued to rise in the past month, there has been a significant shift. More consumers now disagree that travel will return in the fall,” the DMO said.

“Fall travel had looked promising for the island throughout the pandemic. A month ago, hotel bookings for October were off just 2% from a year ago. However, hotel occupancy for that month is now booking 14% lower than the same time last year,” the entity said.

The organization also addressed recent concerns from island residents about how deeply discounted tickets had generated an uptick in travel to Puerto Rico. In some cases, tourists were refusing to wear masks — which are mandated on the island — and were involved in public brawls in public places and in several instances, at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport.

But Discover Puerto Rico said that trend is waning.

“While there was a brief period about six weeks ago where more consumers said they would be motivated by discounts, there has been a shift in recent weeks. With increasing COVID cases, consumers again say that price cuts would not make them more interested in traveling in the next three months,” the organization concluded.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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