Tourism Business Council advises investing in Puerto Rico’s key visitor zones
The Tourism Business Council recommended promoting areas of tourist interest in Puerto Rico through the investment of federal money, to promote self-sufficiency and sustainable economic development.
“It’s imperative that a portion of the federal funds that the island has received are invested in a long-term economic development plan in which tourism is the spearhead,” said the co-chairs of the Council, Interlink CEO Federico J. Sánchez-Ortiz and Federico Stubbe, Jr., CEO of PRISA Group.
“To do this, we propose that tourism improvement districts be created throughout the island that allow optimizing infrastructure, beautification of public areas, and security,” they said.
“We must strengthen our industry in the face of marked global competition, therefore we recommend a billion-dollar investment of federal CDBG-DR program monies in strategic infrastructure development projects for public benefit in designated tourist districts,” Stubbe said.
“An investment of 10% of these funds allocated to the island will generate a world-class offer and a multiplier effect in municipalities and in the destination,” he said.
For example, a $1 billion investment can generate 10,000 direct jobs and some 350,000 new private indirect jobs in 15 years, the trade group stated.
“In addition, it would double the family income of Puerto Ricans and bring us closer to the average income in the continental United States. Average annual economic growth could have the effect of increasing personal income from its current level of $21,832 to $32,547 in 2030,” said Stubbe.
In recent decades, countries and cities have made improvements to their public infrastructure and environment with world-class projects that have transformed their destination, generating investment and jobs. In Puerto Rico, iconic projects such as the Paseo La Princesa, the Barrio de Ballajá in Old San Juan, and the Convention District are examples.
In addition, government funding as an incentive for tourism investors in these districts will create private investments in other sectors, such as real estate, restaurants, transportation, commerce, services and agriculture, among others, he said.
The investment of $1 in tourism development generates $2.5 in indirect investment, the Council stated.
“Our goal at the Council is one; make tourism a priority for economic development for Puerto Rico, where the tourism industry is a generator of new, well-paid jobs, with potential for growth and professional advancement,” said Stubbe.
Some of the group’s proposed projects are:
- In tune with the celebration of the 500 years of the city of San Juan, $500 million should be allocated to plan and develop a new and modern San Juan around the Convention Center District, Condado, Old San Juan, Bahía Urbana and Miramar; and including the areas of Hato Rey, Ocean Park, Punta Las Marías and Isla Verde.
- Improve infrastructure including roads, lighting, landscaping, security, signage, cleaning, public areas and others; and,
- Build pedestrian bridges that connect the tourist areas of the Convention District, Old San Juan and Condado.