Air travel to Puerto Rico highest in 8 years
Island’s destination marketing organization announces recovery ahead of its 1st anniversary
SAN JUAN – Citing reports by hotel industry and short-term lodging trackers, STR and AirDNA, respectively, Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s destination marketing organization (DMO), announced that January-through-April occupancy spending reached $373.6 million, the highest in the past eight years, or a 12.4 percent increase when compared with pre-hurricane Maria levels in 2017.
Puerto Rico’s lodging spend growth is driven by a rise in bookings of vacation rental properties, accounting for 23 percent of the jump, while passenger arrivals reached 1.5 million between January and April, according to data gathered by the operator of the island’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Aerostar Airport Holdings.
“We’re thrilled to see this volume of travelers experiencing all that Puerto Rico has to offer, and supporting the visitor economy of the island, which directly impacts the local community. Our research-driven approach, combined with award-winning publicity and marketing campaigns, have driven quick results for the island,” TravelDailyNews quoted Discover Puerto Rico’s CEO, Brad Dean, as saying.
The tourism surge comes about as the DMO completes its first year of operations. Other rising-tourism indicators cited by the organization include: 2019 year-to-date leads and bookings for meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) are the highest in five years; Muñoz Marín Airport’s 23.8 percent year-over-year increase in air traffic in the first quarter of 2019 compared with 2018’s; and January 2019 cruise data reflecting a 28.9 percent cruise passenger increase, with a 56.6 percent increase in homeport passengers compared with January last year.
The island continues to rack up travel industry acclaims such as luxury travel network Virtuoso ranking the island No. 3 in experiencing the largest year-over-year percentage increase in summer bookings, with a 149 percent jump. Airbnb also saw Puerto Rico lead the top-10 global trending destinations for this summer, with three island municipalities on the list, Dorado, Vieques and Río Grande. Each reflect a 400 percent increase in Airbnb bookings when compared with last year.
“The future of Puerto Rico has never been brighter, and this comeback story, which we are proud to be a part of, is far from over,” Dean added. “Our goal is to double the size of the visitor economy to directly impact and strengthen the development of the island and its remarkable communities.”
Coming up is the 500-year anniversary of the city of San Juan, which coincides with cultural events in the fall as well as the opening of District San Juan, a 5-acre hospitality and entertainment district. The island was also selected as the host destination for the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2020 Global Summit.