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Discover Puerto Rico: Non-resident visitors spent $4.6B locally in ’21

Non-resident visitors in Puerto Rico spent $4.6 billion on the island in 2021, an amount 11% higher than 2019, the year that used to hold the record, Discover Puerto Rico announced.

According to figures from the global firm Tourism Economics, consumers (residents and non-residents) spent $7.4 billion in 2021 in Puerto Rico’s visitor’s industry, an 15% increase compared to 2019.

This implies that the Puerto Rican visitor’s economy not only recovered its pre-pandemic, but exceeded its highest milestone by a significant margin, said Alisha Valentine, director of Analysis and Research at Discover Puerto Rico.

“This reflects the increased average daily rate for lodging, which grew 15% for hotels and 23% for rentals,” Valentine said during Discover Puerto Rico’s Industry Update.

“This is one of many industry recovery milestones,” said Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean, who highlighted that in March the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the leisure and hospitality sectors employed 85,200 people, the highest figure in Puerto Rico’s history.

This improvement was achieved, although the cruise industry is still on its way to a full recovery. In 2019, about a third of the passengers arriving in Puerto Rico were attracted by cruise ships. This group of visitors contributed 7% of consumer spending that year, he said.

“Now, while there is much to celebrate, we cannot overlook the challenges that remain. The pandemic is not yet over, and we must continue to be vigilant with our communications and protocols,” Dean said.

“The cruise line industry has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels, and there can be no full recovery in Puerto Rico tourism until we see a robust schedule of calls and homeporting throughout the year. We’ve reached record employment levels, yet we still have too many open jobs and not enough qualified employees to fill those jobs,” he said.

Another area that promises to take significant steps toward full recovery is the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector. Dean confirmed that the North American Travel Journalists Association will hold its annual convention in Puerto Rico next week. Meanwhile, the island will also host the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S Travel Association meetings.

Next month, the Puerto Rico will also host Connect Marketplace, an event that will bring together nearly a thousand events and convention planners.

“Our brand is getting stronger, our visitor base is expanding, and we are attracting high-profile groups,” Dean said.

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

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