Discover Puerto Rico announced that as a result of the government’s delay in the opening date for inbound tourism — shifting to only accepting essential travelers — traffic and hotel demand have dropped.
The island’s destination marketing organization cited data from STR — an analytics and marketplace insights firm — that shows that hotel demand for the week ending July 26 fell 48% from two weeks earlier, while AirDNA reports that independent rental bookings declined 12.9% for the same period.
For the most recent week, leisure travel bookings declined 18% from the week prior, Discover Puerto Rico said.
Puerto Rico was slated to re-open tourism on July 15, but the date has been pushed back after the island experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases. Most of the public concern targeted the Luis Muñoz Marín Airport, which was receiving dozens of flights from COVID-19 hotspots in the U.S. mainland — Florida, Texas and New York.
Aerostar Airport Holdings reported that arriving passengers into LMM fell 28.6% the week ending Aug. 2 compared to mid-July.
“These key performance indicators reveal that the message about Puerto Rico postponing its opening to tourists is being delivered,” Discover Puerto Rico said.
“While Discover Puerto Rico’s focus has shifted to educate travelers in an effort to safeguard the island from further negative impact of COVID-19, the DMO is ready to activate a robust recovery plan when the time is right,” the entity said.
“The tourism sector is a critical piece in the island’s economy, and we must revive the sector to save the more than 84,000 jobs that are impacted directly and indirectly,” it added.
Since July 16, Discover Puerto Rico has secured more than $15 million in earned media value, with more than 876 million impressions, sharing these critical updates with U.S. mainland media outlets, it said.
Gov’t officials turn to Congress to discuss passenger flow
In related news, the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and the Puerto Rico Ports Authority confirmed they had a conversation with members of the Aviation Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, about the arrival of passengers and tourists to the island during public health concerns in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re very concerned about this situation and the increase in COVID-19 cases that we’re seeing, and so we expressed those concerns to the Aviation Subcommittee and the Federal Aviation Administration,” said PRFAA Executive Director Jennifer M. Storipan.
“We have a large diaspora in the state of Florida, with which I am very familiar since PRFAA provides services to thousands in our regional office. However, it’s vital to temporarily control the passengers who come to our island from these ‘hot spots’ to protect the people who live on the island,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ports Authority Executive Director Joel A. Pizá-Batiz said the goal of the talks with the federal government is to find “creative solutions within a viable legal framework.”
“We’re confident that our federal counterparts will take appropriate measures to better protect the people of Puerto Rico,” he added.