Destination Marketing Organization Discover Puerto Rico obeyed a court decision ordering it to deliver all previous and active contracts to fulfill its role of leading all off-island promotion of leisure travel, meetings, conventions, and events to Rep. Angel Matos.
The lawmaker filed a lawsuit against the entity at the San Juan Superior Court demanding information about its operational expenses, which he claimed have been excessive and unavailable for scrutiny. Discover Puerto Rico is a nonprofit that receives government funding for its operations.
The DMO’s operations have been the subject of discussion in the Legislature, where a bill is circulating to amend Law 17 of 2017, to among other things, increase its budget by $10 million to $35 million.
In a statement, the DMO said much of the essential information included in the contracts delivered was included in contract summaries which Discover Puerto Rico had previously made available to the public. Contracts are also available on its website.
“Discover Puerto Rico is designed to incorporate global best practices, institutional independence and continuity of management to promote Puerto Rico as a premier travel destination,” the entity said in a statement.
The DMO is responsible for all global marketing, sales, and promotion of the destination while working collaboratively with key local governmental and non-governmental partners and the community at large, with a goal of doubling the visitor economy and stimulate economic growth.
“Discover Puerto Rico is committed to operating in an open and transparent atmosphere. We rely upon an industry-standard transparency policy to promote openness, defining what can be considered public information, and guiding Board members, management and staff to effectively handle requests for information,” it said in a statement.
Since opening in July 2018, Discover Puerto Rico has been in full compliance with all reporting standards and requirements specified in the law, it stated.
“We believe that sharing relevant information also promotes collaboration and reinforces our commitment to responsibility and accountability when managing public funds. Transparency is one of our core values, and we are pleased to share information publicly, except in specific situations where we have a legal requirement to protect confidential, proprietary or private information. Our goal is to become a model of transparency for other nonprofit organizations,” it added.
Tourism Industry advocate Daphne Barbeito, who has been against granting the DMO additional funding, said the entity’s decision to turn over the documents — and not file an appeal of the Superior Court’s decision — was the right thing to do.
“The story of the DMO as we know it will significantly change after this. I think the people at the DMO forget their funding is public and when you operate with public funding you have to turn over that type of information,” Barbeito said during an interview on the “En Una Hora” radio program on 11Q 1140 AM radio, in which News is my Business participates.