Discover Puerto Rico reveals results of year-long visitors’ profile study
Discover Puerto Rico published its first comprehensive study on visitors arriving in the destination, a year-long assignment that included interviews in different parts of the island with 1,607 travelers from abroad.
The destination marketing organization also announced a collaboration agreement with Ana G. Méndez University (UAGM, in Spanish) to promote cooperation in student training, educational events and tourism research with initiatives such as exchanging information or studies like the one revealed Thursday with the visitors’ profile.
One of the study’s main findings is that 98% of visitors were satisfied with their experience on the island. Similarly, 95% estimate they will return in the future, and less than 15% experienced any concerns at some point during their stay.
“With such high satisfaction and desire to return among recent visitors, this group of travelers offers an important opportunity for the island. They are the ‘low-hanging fruit’ with a higher likelihood of conversion,” said Erin Francis Cummings, CEO of Destination Analysts, which conducted the study with Gaither International.
She presented the findings during an Industry Update event held at UAGM’s Carolina campus.
“In 2022, just 49% of leisure visitors to Puerto Rico were repeating visitors. In a time of economic anxiety or uncertainty, this group is an opportunity for Puerto Rico to sustain visitation in the near term,” Francis said.
The main reason for travel was vacationing (65%). Only 13% said their trip was to visit relatives or friends. Travelers selected Puerto Rico as a destination for its weather (34%), scenic beauty (32%) and local culture (31%).
On average, travelers stayed on the island for 6.1 nights. About half spent the night in a hotel (45%), a third in short-term rentals (34%) and the rest in private residences. It is estimated that each visitor spends around $208 a day. These expenses include accommodations, food, entertainment, experiences and shopping.
Visitors were, on average, 46 years old, primarily women (58%), 60% of whom are married. Family income averaged around $135,000 annually. A third of the travelers lived with children.
Race and ethnicity characteristics were also collected. Sixty-four percent of travelers identified as white, or Caucasian, and 13% as Black, or African American. About one in every four (24%) identified as Hispanic or Latino. A similar percentage (23%) said they were of Puerto Rican descent, and 8% affirmed their identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Discover Puerto Rico said last year was the best in the history of the island’s tourism industry in terms of visitor spending ($5.7 billion), revenue from the rental tax ($116 million) and jobs in the recreation and lodging sectors (91,500). In addition, the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport had the highest passenger traffic (over 10 million) in more than a decade. It was also the year that the marketing organization’s ongoing promotional campaign “Live Boricua” was launched.
The organization added that its promotional efforts generated advances in travelers’ familiarity with Puerto Rico as a tourist destination, in the positive perception of the island and the probability of visiting. The likelihood of visiting and the positive perception of Puerto Rico increased by five percentage points since 2021, according to the firm Strategic Marketing & Research data.
“This progress was achieved because Discover Puerto Rico was able to add a significant number of economic resources with federal funds [American Rescue Plan Act of 2021; Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020; and Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery]. In 2022, we managed to reach over 33 million households with the Live Boricua campaign, and over 32% of our visitors know or have been positively impacted by our promotional efforts,” said Alisha Valentine, director of research and analysis at Discover Puerto Rico.
A collaborative effort between industry and academia
A two-year collaborative agreement between Discover Puerto Rico and UAGM was signed during the event. It includes clauses that commit the parties to the organization of conferences, seminars and courses related to tourism, to carry out professional practices for students, promote and assist academic research associated with the visitor industry, and collaborate in activities, meetings, conferences, and training organized by the entities.
Discover Puerto Rico will also adopt an area at UAGM Carolina’s José A. “Tony” Santana International School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts to exhibit images associated with its “Live Boricua” campaign.
“We’re honored to be part of this great project, which will allow our International School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts to maintain its commitment to academic excellence and the development of Puerto Rico’s tourism ecosystem,” university President José F. Méndez-Méndez said.
“This agreement allows us to collaborate closely with the academy and positively impact the students who are making their way in our industry, which has so much potential to grow the Puerto Rican economy and increasingly offers more and better opportunities for professional development,” said Brad Dean, Discover Puerto Rico’s CEO.
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