The Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association unveiled Thursday a study that confirms tourism as the sector that can provide “quick stability and economic growth” to Puerto Rico.
Furthermore, the study also confirmed the need for a Destination Management Organization — a concept the trade group has been proposing for more than a decade.
The study conducted by the Inteligencia Económica research firm showed that 20 years ago, Puerto Rico welcomed 30 percent of tourists and visitors coming to the Caribbean region, but now it receives 14 percent. Despite the loss in market share, tourism demand in other Caribbean islands shows there is opportunity for growth for Puerto Rico, the study showed.
The study followed metrics used by the World Tourism Organization and presents a series of recommendations to help the industry evolve and increase the sector’s development potential.
For every dollar invested in hotels, .63 cents are generated for the economy. In other words, from 2006 to 2012, there were $3.3 billion invested in Puerto Rico’s tourism sector, generating more than $5.3 billion for the economy in that same period, the study showed.
By 2015, tourism generated more than $215 million for the local economy corresponding to visitor spending, and another $20 million in taxes, the study found.
Regarding job creation, the study revealed that for each direct job generated in the hotel industry, indirect employment is .72 percent.
Meanwhile, the study also indicates in detail the risk to which the 18 casinos operating in the island are exposed, which contribute $156 million to the public coffers. About 80 percent of the Tourism Company’s operating income comes from hotels with casinos.
“With the vital information we see in the study, we have a clear picture of where we should focus our efforts as a destination to raise tourist activity and contribute to Puerto Rico’s sustainable economic development,” said Miguel Vega, chairman of the PRHTA.
He further said a DMO would help the island grow as a destination, and the PRHTA is in talks with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s administration to see it through.
“We’re talking at the highest level in La Fortaleza to include our suggestions in the administration’s bill that would create a DMO based on the four pillars that the PRHTA promotes: that it be an entity independent of government and politics and has fiscal autonomy, that it is governed by a board of directors mostly from the private sector, and is a newly created entity,” Vega said.
“In that sense, we are confident that the study we’re presenting today will contribute to the administration in this process,” he added.