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Puerto Rico’s DMO Vital to Puerto Rico Tourism Showcase

By on March 15, 2018

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the March 15-21 print edition of Caribbean Business.

Despite damages or delays that Hurricane Maria may have cost the Corporation for the Promotion of Puerto Rico as a Destination, the island’s destination marketing organization (DMO), on July 1, is set to take over marketing of Puerto Rico as a destination.

As part of getting ready for the fast-approaching date, the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) and DMO have already signed the contract to ensure the corporation’s long-term funding. Likewise, the DMO’s board of directors has submitted to a certification process delineating the administrative tasks it has completed and a timeline for its responsibilities to be finished before the end of this fiscal year.

Before July 1, the PRTC has been in charge of the destination marketing strategy to help bring back the tourism that was lost in the last quarter of 2017. However, once the DMO takes the reins to internationally promote Puerto Rico as a destination, Carla Campos, executive director of the PRTC, explained they will be able to focus on being the destination managing organization and creating a comprehensive development plan for the island’s tourism.

Getting the paperwork done

On March 2, the PRTC and Corporation for the Promotion of Puerto Rico as a Destination signed a 10-year contract that establishes the services the marketing organization will provide, including those that were not established in the law that created the DMO. Furthermore, it also will secure the funds from the government, which can be up to $25 million annually. This sum comes from a portion of what the PRTC receives as part of the room tax.

Another important document for the transition of responsibilities, according to Campos, was the certification that establishes what is done on the checklist and what will be completed. Up to this point, the DMO has completed its banking paperwork and accounting system. Campos also mentioned the DMO has hired consultants, advisers and a human resources firm, the latter of which is in charge of general recruitment and evaluating Tourism Co. employees who could transition to the marketing organization.

On the to-do list is finding a chief executive officer, chief marketing officer, chief financial officer and an executive director. A headhunting firm is doing the search work to fill these positions.

As established in Act 17-2017, to complete these tasks, the Tourism Co. is sending seed funding to the nonprofit corporation.

Additional collaboration between the PRTC and the DMO comes in the form of information. While the Tourism Co. is the entity that designed the island’s post-Maria marketing strategy, the DMO’s marketing committee has remained in the loop with Tourism Co. decisions.

Aside from communications with the PRTC, Jon Borschow, chairman of the DMO board and president of Foundation for Puerto Rico, explained they are looking to bring in outside experts who will serve on an advisory board.

As for communication with the rest of the tourism sector, Federico Stubbe Jr., vice chairman of the DMO board and president of PRISA Group, indicated the board has taken proactive efforts to include input from the tourism sector. These efforts include strategic workshops in which “different people from this sector are invited to simply do more outreach and become more open to the input,” Stubbe explained.

Reasons for the strategy

Once up and running, Borschow argues the goal for the DMO would not be just establishing a particular marketing campaign but also “developing a long-term vision and strategy to market the destination, and specifically creating a new and lasting brand” for Puerto Rico.

The focus of the new long-term strategy will not be on a particular location or activity but rather to show a diversity of options. This variety includes promoting different types of activities and other locations outside of what has long been considered the island’s tourism centers.

“As we strengthen all regions, all municipalities and all communities of our island, we immensely strengthen the Puerto Rican destination,” Borschow argued.

When it comes to the number of visitors, the chairman’s goal is to have 60,000 daily visitors divided into 30,000 in the more traditional destination zones and another 30,000 in the rest of the island.

To get to that point, Borschow argues Puerto Rico needs to present itself as place where many types of experiences are possible.

–Read the rest of this article in Caribbean Business’ epaper here.

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