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Puerto Rico’s marketing firm reports highest tourism revenue, visitor numbers in history

By on July 3, 2019

Discover Puerto Rico celebrates first-anniversary achievements

SAN JUAN  – Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s first private and nonprofit destination marketing organization (DMO), was celebrating its one-year anniversary this week, and announced that tourism is the “strongest it’s ever been, as the destination tracks towards a record-breaking year.”

Year-to-date revenue is the highest in the island’s history, with $445 million reported through May, the DMO said, adding that 1.67 million visitors arrived in the San Juan, Ponce and Aguadilla airports, the highest number for the January-April period. 

The Discover Puerto Rico team (Screen capture of

“Despite the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimating a recovery between 2021-2022, and New Orleans taking eight years to get back to pre-Katrina levels, we set an aggressive goal to fast-track the visitor economy at a record pace, for the benefit of local communities,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. 

Since its inception, the DMO focused on several major initiatives, such as decreasing the “negative perception” travelers and meeting planners had to strengthen the leisure and meetings and conventions segments.

Travelers’ “likelihood to visit Puerto Rico increased 6 points over the past year, an impressive jump, despite significantly reduced marketing budgets,” the DMO said.

Among meeting planners, post- Hurricane Maria perception of Puerto Rico “has a fully recovered or ready for business destination has increased 5X (from 8% to 41%) over the past year. Desirability for booking meetings & conventions has grown almost 3X (from 24% to 71%) this year,” the organization announced. 

The DMO repositioned the Puerto Rico brand for growth by developing a new brand identity, and launched a research-based marketing strategy, along with a new campaign, a move that has already yielded results and “will yield even greater long-term impact,” it assured.

Among the initiative’s results is that media coverage of Puerto Rico now more prominently “features culture, arts, and cuisine, followed by natural attractions, versus just beaches.”

Data show that travelers who have seen the new brand campaign stay “nearly three days longer” on the island, for which media coverage about areas outside San Juan has “grown 4X since last July, and there has been a tremendous growth in the number of visitors” to the rest of the island.

Arrivals to Aguadilla are 44% higher than the previous record from 2017, the DMO pointed out, adding that the airport “is on pace to receive 800,000 passengers this year, which would shatter the existing record.

Discover Puerto Rico’s new website, social media strategy and digital ads are among its most successful engagement tools. Since its launch, traffic to the website is up 128%. Pages per session are up 34%, “showing people are engaging with a range of content,” while time on the website is up 31%, “and bounce rate is down by 13%, meaning the content is driving interest,” the DMO explained, adding that page views are up 228%.

Discover Puerto Rico has seen nearly 40,000 referrals to local businesses and points of interest and said it “took a very weak pipeline of sales prospects, and injected strong interest to propel Puerto Rico as a leading force” in the meetings and conventions travel segment, promoting the island’s “status as the most technologically advanced destination in the Caribbean, offering ease of traveling, combined with unparalleled culture and diverse natural offerings.”

The results are that leads generated and contracted events are the “highest they have been in five years,” while “[r]equested and contracted rooms are also at an all-time high. And, conversions on bookings are up 121% (from 14% to 31%).”

The DMO estimated a more than $92 million economic impact with groups “already signed and another $288M in potential impact from opportunities in the pipeline.” One significant result of the efforts was the island being chosen for the Connect 2021 event, to which some 1,700 meeting planners will attend.

The DMO said it is preparing for industry accreditation to position itself among the highest in quality and performance standards for destination marketing and management.

“A year in advance of being eligible, the DMO checks off meeting high standards in areas including governance, finance, human resources, sales, communications, branding, destination development, and research. The DMO already complies with 70% of the mandatory accreditation standards and 40% of the aspirational or voluntary standards of leading DMOs,” its release reads.

“Our ultimate objective is to put the transformative power of travel to work in Puerto Rico, by doubling the visitor economy, and continuing to benefit the Island’s residents and businesses,” Dean said, cautioning, however, that it is “critical to ensure we have the right resources to continue this momentum,” referring to its capped $25 million annual budget from the island’s lodging-room-night tax.

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