Puerto Rico residents are driving the island’s tourism sector, checking into island hotels and “paradores” (small inns) at a faster rate than outside visitors and keeping the sector afloat despite the somber economic scenario, Banco Popular’s most recent edition of the “Progreso Económico” report concluded.
“Visiting tourists typically account for about two thirds of hotel check-ins in Puerto Rico. Following the end of the U.S. recession of 2008-2009, non-resident hotel check-ins began rising again, reaching a growth rate of almost 7 percent in Fiscal 2012 with respect to the previous year,” the report said.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico residents have also been checking-in at local hotels and “paradores” in greater numbers, despite the declining population and the recession, now entering its seventh year.
In FY 2011-12, resident hotel check-ins rose at almost 14 percent with respect to the previous year, the report noted.
Meanwhile, rooms and hotel properties have also been on the rise, albeit slowly, after a string of hotel closings and extended renovations that reduced the 13,000-room inventory available some six years ago.
“By 2010, the inventory had recovered, and began to grow steadily. In Fiscal 2012, the average number of available rooms grew 2 percent with respect to the previous fiscal year, and the average number of occupied rooms grew almost 5 percent,” the bank said in its analysis. “As a result, occupancy rates at hotels and ‘paradores‘ reached an eight-year high of 80.3 percent in July 2012.”
Recent high-profile investments such as the Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which opened in December 2012, and the St. Regis Bahía Beach in Río Grande, which opened in November 2010, have also boosted the sector’s high-end calling card, recent positive reviews from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
“The infinite number of sand, palm trees, and beauty in Puerto Rico naturally raises expectations about the potential of the tourism sector. However, whether these investments will produce the expected jobs is yet to be seen,” “Progreso Económico” concluded.