Foundation for Puerto Rico Presents Plan to Double Visitor’s Economy
SAN JUAN — Local nonprofit Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR) unveiled Thursday a five-year plan to double the size of the island’s “visitor’s economy,” which mostly comprises the tourism sector, but also extends to its indirect economic impact.
“Puerto Rico has a lot of dimensions that could allow it to attract a lot more visitors,” said FPR Chairman Jon Borschow during a press conference at the FPR Colaboratorio in Santurce. “We are a wonderful destination but are capturing only 0.3% of international travelers, an infinitesimal part of a global market that is growing at an accelerated pace.”
Borschow explained that the roughly 100-page document goes into the ways in which the island can increase the size of its visitors’ economy from its current levels of about $7 billion a year to almost $14 billion annually if the plan is aggressively adopted. “It is as simple as two plus two,” he noted. “Namely, increasing within the next five years the number of visitors that come to the island by two million.”
The plan also seeks to extend the average stay of Puerto Rico visitors for an additional two days, from the current average of 2.6 days to 4.6. In this regard, the island lags far behind nearby destinations such as the Dominican Republic, which boast average stays of more than eight days, while Hawaii and New Zealand have more than nine days each, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC ).
“Achieving [both goals] has the potential to generate an additional $7 billion to the economy, duplicating the actual tourism contribution, and create up to 70,000 job opportunities and entrepreneurial undertakings,” Borschow stressed.
Longer-term forecasts would place the size of Puerto Rico’s visitor economy at $18.5 billion in 10 years, compared with just $8.9 billion if current practices are kept, according to estimates from the WTTC and cited by the study.
The report, which is available for download at www.foundationforpuertorico.org, divides its strategy into five components, the first being to form networks and alliances between private and public sectors alongside nonprofits and academia. When asked by Caribbean Business whether a single organization would be responsible to coordinate such alliances toward a common goal, and if FPR would be willing to take on such a role, Borschow said such an integration of efforts wouldn’t be necessary under their plan. “This isn’t for a single [player] to take charge, but for all of us to contribute.”
The other strategic pillars espoused by the study include carrying out an effective worldwide marketing campaign, mainly through digital means; maximizing the visitor’s experience by improving service-oriented culture and access to diverse attractions; measuring results by establishing rigorous metrics and standards; and change local attitudes into a greater understanding of Puerto Rico’s strengths as a destination.
The study also looks into efforts that other destinations have carried out to spur their own visitor’s economy such as New Zealand, Ireland and the U.S. mainland.
The nonprofit will also hold a gubernatorial candidates’ forum, in which the six main candidates will discuss the issues put forth by the FPR through it latest study. The forum will be transmitted on radio broadcast through NotiUno 630AM Oct. 17 and 18 at 6 p.m.