Record highs were set in total cruise ship passenger traffic in May, with 95,139 visitors arriving, representing a 47 percent jump from the 64,632 passengers reported in May 2016, Tourism Co. Executive Director José Izquierdo said.
For the visitor economy, cruise traffic for the month of May this year represents an impact of approximately $9.5 million in passenger and crew spending during their stay on the island, an increase of $2.5 million compared to May of last year. Businesses that benefit most from these visits are restaurants, shops, tour operators and artisans of the Old San Juan area, he said.
“Puerto Rico is one of the main tourist destinations in the Caribbean, so it represents an attractive market for cruise lines. Currently, we are making efforts so that the number of passengers continues to rise and attract more ships to the island, including the ports of Ponce, Vieques and Culebra,” said Izquierdo.
In addition to target marketing strategies and incentive programs for air and cruise lines the agency offers, one of the factors that has helped increase passenger traffic are visits by mega-cruisers. In addition, expansion projects and infrastructure improvements by the Ports Authority have been key in providing cruises to increase their routes to the island, he added.
The agency’s projections are that the current fiscal year will close with a total of 1,475,000 cruise ship passenger arrivals, representing an economic impact of some $191 million.
For fiscal year 2018, which starts July 1, the projected number reaches 1,600,000 cruise passengers. This would set a record for Puerto Rico, with an economic impact of approximately $211 million, Izquierdo said.