Discover Puerto Rico to spend $50M in federal funds to market island
Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), will use $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds (ARPA) during 2022 and 2023 to expand the marketing campaign throughout the US mainland and boost promotions beyond the already developed international markets.
Discover Puerto Rico Chief Marketing Officer Leah Chandler confirmed the information during a webinar in which the use of the federal funding was discussed.
The amount will allow Puerto Rico to invest a similar amount to those of the island’s closest competitors, such as the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Jamaica, she said.
The funds will be added to Discover Puerto Rico’s fixed budget of $25 million annually.
This increase in promotional funds happens “at a favorable juncture for Puerto Rico as the local tourism industry has experienced a phenomenal year with traveler spending hovering 19% more than in 2019,” said Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean.
“In the US, travel spending is 9% lower than 2019, according to US Travel Association & Tourism Economics,” he said.
“While other tourist destinations are surviving, we’re thriving. While our competitors are still well below the pre-pandemic levels, we’re on our way to make 2021 a record year,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said during the event.
“This is a historic opportunity to continue the success of 2021 and take tourism in Puerto Rico to new levels,” said Dean.
Meanwhile, Chandler explained that the organization developed a plan to use the funds whose main objective is to stimulate economic development and, from the competitive advantages achieved during the pandemic, pave the way toward a command of tourist markets.
“This time, we aren’t working on a comeback, but a takeover,” Chandler said, adding that among the initiatives contemplated in the plan to use ARPA funds is to develop a promotional campaign throughout the US mainland, not only the existing geographic markets the DMO targets.
Similarly, tourism promotion will delve into the niche of conscientious travelers seeking cultural experiences in connection with local communities, she said.
It will also promote the competitive advantages of Puerto Rico as a destination, including accessibility, the high rate of vaccinated population, and the cultural peculiarities that allow the destination to be perceived as an international destination for US visitors.
Strategies are also being designed to promote Puerto Rico in the content distributed by streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, create a Spanish version of the Discover Puerto Rico website and explore new niches among the Hispanic and African American communities.
Efforts will be redoubled for visitors to explore the island beyond the San Juan metropolitan area, she said.
At the local level, Discover Puerto Rico will use a portion of the funds to establish a program that will educate small business in municipalities to promote, align, and boost their offerings through digital platforms.