Discover Puerto Rico: Tourism is thriving for 3rd consecutive year
Brad Dean, the chief executive officer of Discover Puerto Rico, recently shared the destination marketing organization’s “Industry Update Agenda” for November, which provided an overview of its plans, actions, strategies and current market dynamics.
“As we approach the end of 2023, it’s clear that our island’s tourism industry continues to set records and lead both the U.S. mainland and the Caribbean region in key tourism metrics,” Dean said in a webinar with reporters. “In terms of visitor demand, lodging yields, tourism tax collections and leisure hospitality employment, the three best years of Puerto Rico tourism have been 2021, 2022 and 2023.”
Dean said the organization is looking to expand its reach and increase its impact “and write the next chapter of our success together.”
“I could not be more pleased with the progress we are making,” Dean added.
He noted that there have been incredible increases in primary brand health metrics.
“With the cruise industry recovering and international travel growing, we are successfully positioning our island to grow in both of those spaces, while doubling down on core markets and emerging markets with targeted high-impact promotion and publicity designed to elevate our success and performance,” the CEO said.
Airline tickets purchased outside the island, with Puerto Rico as their destination, increased by 25% for the current fourth quarter of 2023 and by 53% for the first quarter of 2024, according to data from the analytics firm Forward Keys.
Emerging markets identified by the organization such as Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Toronto are now among the top origins for travelers planning trips to Puerto Rico for the first quarter of 2024 after experiencing huge increases in ticket sales to the island.
In Chicago, the increase was 78% compared to sales in the same period the previous year. In Detroit, the surge was 158%; in Minneapolis, 48%; and in Toronto, 97%.
Contrary to industry projections of a slowdown by the end of 2023, Puerto Rico “defies international economic challenges,” setting new benchmarks in the tourism and hospitality sectors, Dean said. Instead of “succumbing to the international economic headwinds,” Puerto Rico is on track to set, for the third consecutive year, new records in demand and lodging income, room tax collections and jobs in the leisure and accommodations sectors, he added.
Puerto Rico has witnessed a remarkable uptick in its tourism sector, with accommodation demand in September climbing 10% above the same period in 2022. This increase was more pronounced in short-term rentals (14.6%) than in hotels (7.5%).
Cecilia Rodríguez, marketing research manager for Discover Puerto Rico, noted that the growth in lodging revenue was estimated at 14%. Tax collections are 16% above 2022, and passenger traffic at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is expected to be among the highest in decades.
The organization’s chief marketing officer, Leah Chandler, announced that it is working with a series of promotions to entice cruise passengers to explore Puerto Rico thoroughly during their stay or to experience a stand-alone vacation on the island.
Amid delays in obtaining passports in the U.S., Discover Puerto Rico is intensifying its message that U.S. citizens do not need a passport to vacation on the island.
Chandler also highlighted the expansion of promotions to platforms such as Pandora, YouTube, and Hulu. This is in addition to activations in Toronto, Colombia and Europe, and at major tourism commercial gatherings like IMEX America and Brand USA Travel Week.
“Our ‘no passport required’ messaging is being refreshed across all mediums for legibility and the distinction as accessibility to the island continues to be a priority when we are promoting the destination,” Chandler said. “These updates include modifying the passport stamp to be more visually prominent on all of our print and digital executions by increasing the size and opacity of a no passport stamp and including additional language on our static execution.”