Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s Destination Marketing Organization, marked its one-year anniversary, announcing that tourism is the strongest it’s ever been, as the destination tracks toward a record-breaking year.
Year-to-date revenue is the highest in the island’s history, with $445 million reported through May, Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, said.
The island has received 1.67 million visitors across the San Juan, Ponce, and Aguadilla airports in the first few months of this year, the highest number of airport arrivals in the January-April timeframe in the Island’s history, he said.
“Despite the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimating a recovery between 2021-2022, and New Orleans taking eight years to get back to pre-Katrina levels, we set an aggressive goal to fast-track the visitor economy at a record pace, for the benefit of local communities,” said Dean.
Since its inception last July, Discover Puerto Rico embarked on a mission to reposition Puerto Rico’s brand, capitalizing on the island’s rich tourism product to thrive as a leading Caribbean destination.
The organization’s five major initiatives included: Addressing the negative perceptions travelers and meeting planners had about Puerto Rico, to strengthen both the leisure and meetings and conventions segments; Repositioning Puerto Rico’s brand for growth; catapulting the meetings and conventions business, among other steps.
Citing industry data, Dean said the new brand identity has “already yielded results and will yield even greater long-term impact. Data shows that consumers who are exposed to the new brand campaign are staying nearly three days longer than those who haven’t been.”
As for the meetings and conventions business, the DMO has elevated the island’s status as the most technologically-advanced destination in the Caribbean, offering ease of traveling, combined with unparalleled culture and diverse natural offerings.
He said leads-generated and contracted events are the highest they have been in five years. Requested and contracted rooms are also at an all-time high. And, conversions on bookings are up 121% (from 14% to 31%), Dean added.
Discover Puerto Rico estimates more than $92 million in economic impact, with groups already signed and another $288 million in potential impact from opportunities in the pipeline.
This effort secured Connect 2021, which will bring a gathering of 1,700 meeting planners across a wide range of sectors.
“We’re thrilled to report that Puerto Rico’s tourism is the strongest it’s ever been. However, this is just the first step,” Dean said.
“Our ultimate objective is to put the transformative power of travel to work in Puerto Rico, by doubling the visitor economy, and continuing to benefit the Island’s residents and businesses. It’s critical to ensure we have the right resources to continue this momentum,” said Dean.
Among Puerto Rico’s future projects are the 500-year anniversary of San Juan, with cultural events beginning in Fall 2019, the opening of District Live! In San Juan, a five-acre hospitality and entertainment district in Isla Grande, and being named the host destination for the upcoming World Travel and Tourism Council 2020 Global Summit.