The Foundation for Puerto Rico released a study that shows that beyond establishing a Destination Marketing Organization, or DMO, for Puerto Rico, the island has a pressing need for a destination management plan.
The study entitled “Visitor Economy: Governance and destination management” embodies the research and analysis the nonprofit conducted on the different elements of a tourist destination, the different existing governance structures to manage a tourist destination, and makes the distinction between marketing and destination management.
“The main finding of our study is that a development plan and management destination in Puerto Rico and the creation of an independent organization for marketing the destination are indispensable for integration, management quality and ecosystem effectiveness” said Arnaldo Cruz, director of research and analysis Foundation for Puerto Rico.
“Carrying out a participatory and inclusive process for the creation and development of a destination management plan facilitate its implementation in a coherent, integrated and effective way to build on the elements of strength and opportunities that Puerto Rico has as a global destination,” he said.
The study identifies and evaluates the multiple elements of managing a destination, both conceptually and in the context of Puerto Rico’s particularities. Those being: attractions, amenities, accessibility, human resources, price and image. In addition, best practices are identified to manage a destination and identify the different existing models of governance throughout the world.
“At the Foundation we are constantly analyzing the different models and trends to provide knowledge in the development of our visitor economy,” said Jon Borschow, Foundation for Puerto Rico chairman.
“We believe the increase in our tourist activity significantly contributes to Puerto Rico the economic future and spearheads it,” he said.
The Foundation for Puerto Rico has been part of the dialogue for the development of the bill authorizing the creation of DMO for strategic, continuous and consistent promotion of Puerto Rico at a global level.
“Marketing is one of the components of managing a destination. Marketing and promotion of Puerto Rico’s brand or image are part of a management strategy target,” said Cruz.
“Often, other elements of the destination — attractions, amenities, accessibility, human resources, price and image — are downplayed and we focus public discussion only on marketing,” Cruz added.
“But that’s as if companies focused only on promotion and didn’t worry about product development, distribution and price…this what destination management is about, overseeing all elements of a destination in an integrated manner,” he said.
Meanwhile, Borschow said creating a DMO is the first step to reform the governance model of the destination, reducing the vulnerability of promotion and marketing to electoral changes, which have affected the continuity and consistency of Puerto Rico’s brand.
“To align the management of all the components, it’s necessary to put into writing a strategy for the development of the destination that can guide the work of the new DMO and the Tourism Company, as well as all of the players of the ecosystem,” he said.
“That way we ensure that everyone is working in tune and in harmony, using a common language and sharing plans and strategies that allow us to use metrics to measure progress and results,” said Borschow.
The Foundation for Puerto Rico also recommends the creation of a process of validation and external evaluation to provide confidence in tourism statistics and that can be used by the entire ecosystem. This is something for which the Foundation has been advocating since 2016.
The nonprofit is hosting a gathering to discuss the topics of the study on April 6 at 6 p.m. at the Colaboratorio by Foundation for Puerto Rico in Santurce.