Puerto Rico Tourism Holds Steady In 2016
SAN JUAN — Despite a challenging year, demand for the destination of Puerto Rico in 2016 has remained strong, with the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) reaching its goal of welcoming ten million passengers to Puerto Rico airports while coming off a historic, record-breaking 2015, the public corporation said in a press release Wednesday.
Since the start of the Zika virus epidemic, total hotel registrations from January-September in 2016 are 1.6% higher than 2015 and non-resident hotel registrations are 1.4% over last year, said Ingrid Rivera Rocafort, PRTC executive director. “Puerto Rico’s tourism in 2016 remained extremely resilient despite a challenging year,” she added. “Our comprehensive education campaign was instrumental in informing and arming travelers with the facts about Zika for a worry-free experience on the island.”
Tourism contributes nearly $4 billion to Puerto Rico’s economy and has been a rare bright spot in the island’s ongoing recession. Highlights that underscore the continued demand for travel, by air and sea to Puerto Rico in 2016 include:
- 10 million passengers will be welcomed by Puerto Rico Airports by the end of 2016.
- 11 new airlines have arrived in 3 years, and over half a million new inbound seats, including Iberia and Allegiant Airlines starting service this year
- 94% room tax collected in 2016 compared to 87% in 2015, collecting an incremental $2 million in tax revenue, a 137% growth from 2012.
- 70.4% hotel occupancy in 2015-16 reported from Jan.-August compared to 67.9% in 2012
- 1.5 million cruise passengers arrived to Puerto Rico in 2015 with 1.6 million passengers expected in 2017-18.
- Number one home port confirmed for cruise ships in the Caribbean attracting the world’s newest vessels including the world’s largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas (6,780 passengers), which is scheduled to arrive in San Juan in December 2016.
From March to September, Meet Puerto Rico hosted 132 groups with more than 211,000 attendees and “not one Zika case reported,” Tourism’s release reads, from those attendees as per the CDC. Key conferences and conventions include the Routes Americas conference, the International Tourism Expo (ETI), the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Cruise Conference and Trade Show and the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operation Summit, Congreso Internacional de la Lengua Española VII, Jehovah’s Witness and National Head Start Association among others, offsetting Zika related cancellations From March to September 2016.
The Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association (PRHTA) also collaborated with the PRTC to break through the Zika hype, with an aggressive media educational outreach program that aimed to dissipate the fears and communicate the real facts about Zika.
“Starting in February, we worked with the PRTC to change the Zika conversation,” said Clarisa Jiménez, president and CEO of the PRHTA. “The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention called us ‘ground zero for the Zika virus’ and projected that 25% of Puerto Rico’s population would have the virus. That has not materialized, with currently less than one percent of the population reporting Zika. We have been able to cut through the hype to reassure visitors that Puerto Rico is a destination where anyone can enjoy a worry-free vacation by taking simple precautions.”