Puerto Rico tourism sector to get $120M injection in federal funds
Puerto Rico’s tourism sector will get $120 million in American Rescue Plan funds to promote the island as a destination and develop five specific projects, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said.
“Tourism is one of the most important and fastest growing economic sectors in the world, with an annual growth of 2.5% during the last decade,” said the governor. “For this reason, and due to our natural and cultural charms, we’re betting on tourism as one of the most important pillars for our economic development and job creation.”
The use of the $120 million allocation is broken down into five initiatives.
The first calls for promoting Puerto Rico as a tourist destination in the United States and abroad and boosting economic development by increasing the number of visitors and the length of their stays. That project will get a $50 million allocation and will be assigned to the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. and Discover Puerto Rico to see it through.
The $50 million is split into: $17.5 million to improve and strengthen the Puerto Rico brand domestically and globally; $2.5 million for marketing and communications initiatives; $3 million to promote and boost the economic growth experienced in 2019 and mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; $2.25 million to ensure optimal use of available resources and help small businesses participate in digital strategies to gain visibility with visitors; $11.75 million for marketing directed to attract new visitors through the development of new geographic markets; and $10.5 million to implement sales and service initiatives to attract conventions, events, exhibitions, and leisure travel.
The second project calls for the Tourism Co. and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources to use $30 million to revitalize tourist attractions, natural resources, and government-run beaches.
The government-run beaches that will get upgrades are: La Monserrate in Luquillo ($1.2 million); Cerro Gordo in Vega Alta ($800,000; Caña Gorda in Guánica ($1.5 million); Sun Bay in Vieques ($1.3 million); Boquerón in Cabo Rojo ($5.2 million); Tres Hermanos in Añasco ($3 million) and Manuel Nolo Morales in Dorado ($2.5 million).
Several parks, such as the Camuy Caves, will get $3 million for improvements. The Parque Ecológico del Monte del Estado in Maricao will get $1.5 million, the Parque Nacional Julio Enrique Monagas in Bayamón will get $1.2 million and other parks and forests will share $6 million according to their needs.
The third project will focus on promoting internal tourism, assigning $20 million to the Tourism Co. to complete the task. That money will be split into $8 million for a marketing and promotion campaign to increase the demand for domestic tourism; $800,000 to conduct an annual study for four years of the profile of domestic tourism; $4 million to expand several government programs, namely Paradores de Puerto Rico, Mesones Gastronómicos, agro, eco, nautical, cultural and sports tourism; $4 million to sponsor local events to expand the entertainment offer for four years; $2 million for recovery and development of domestic and international air access; and a $1.2 million reserve for crisis mitigation and management.
The fourth project calls for promoting Puerto Rico as a destination for entrepreneurship and conventions, for which $10 million have been set aside. The Tourism Co. and the Convention Center District Authority will be responsible of generating the activity. For that, $1 million has been assigned to generate “top tier” events at the Puerto Rico Coliseum; $2 million to elevate the Puerto Rico Convention Center’s image; $1 million to expand the reach of convention centers; and $6 million to increase the production of multi-hotel events, among other initiatives.
The fifth and final project calls for investing $10 million in marketing Puerto Rico as an investment destination, to be handled by Invest Puerto Rico and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish).
The allocation will be split into $3.5 million to promote Puerto Rico as a competitive investment jurisdiction; $1.5 million to expand the portfolio of prospects of companies that are considering relocating to the island; and $4 million to shine a light on Puerto Rico’s competitive assets.