Beautiful beaches, world class golf courses, inspired cuisine and historic treasures are just a few of the many reasons tourism to Puerto Rico is surging. The newly released end-of-year report compiled by independent firm Smith Travel Research (STR) placed Puerto Rico fourth in 2011 hotel occupancy in the Americas, behind Chile, Uruguay and Curacao. The city of San Juan ranked fifth in hotel occupancy among cities in the Americas behind Miami, New York, Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco, and is outpacing former hotspots including Los Angeles, Cancún, Negril and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
End of year 2011 figures show that hotel occupancy numbers are up 2.3 percent from 2010, the average daily rate (ADR) is up 4.6 percent and room revenues grew 9.1 percent. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) rose 7.1 percent – only New York City came in higher. Further, international and domestic airlines added new routes to Puerto Rico in 2011, including Canada’s WestJet, Germany’s Condor and U.S.-based Jet Blue. In February 2012, Delta announced an increase in flights from San Juan to New York, with three daily non-stops beginning March 1 as a result of the destinations popularity.
The executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), Mario González-Lafuente said, “In rooms only, approximately $59 million was sold over the previous year. Within the Caribbean, occupancy in Puerto Rico reached 69.2 percent, a very close second behind Curacao with 69.8 percent. Without a doubt, this increase is a result of well-implemented strategies that have been adjusted to the reality of an industry that has not been exempt from a weakening global economy. And, these figures demonstrate Puerto Rico’s position as one of the most desirable vacation destinations in the Americas.”
González-Lafuente attributes Puerto Rico’s jump in visitors to the successful integration between PRTC’s Just Think, Puerto Rico marketing campaign and efforts by tourism industry partners including hotels, airlines and travel agents to showcase the Island’s varied and unique offerings.
Puerto Rico has also seen a strong uptick in cruise ship visitors in the past year, due largely to a rigorous government strategic plan designed to entice the cruising industry to make San Juan a must-stop destination on their itineraries. The cruising industry generates a great deal of revenue for Puerto Rico – more than $240 million in 2011. Since the start of the high season in mid-December 2011, nearly 250,000 passengers disembarked from more than 36 cruise ships at the San Juan docks.
“These numbers are quite encouraging. They are indicative of the recovery of this important sector of the economy on which so many Puerto Rican families depend directly and indirectly,” added González-Lafuente.
Puerto Rico’s tourism efforts led the World Economic Forum to move the Island up eight notches in just one year on its 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. “This growth and these results – along with Travel & Leisure calling us the world’s most searched island destination in the world and the readers of Caribbean Travel + Life voting us the best Caribbean travel destination – show that the world is rediscovering what we already know: Puerto Rico does it better,” remarked González-Lafuente.
In a survey of visitors to Puerto Rico regularly carried out by the Government Statistics Institute, approximately 90 percent of those surveyed who visited Puerto Rico during 2011 said they would strongly recommend the Island as a great place to visit. Most visitors surveyed were visiting Puerto Rico from the United States, primarily from New York and Florida. A significant number of those surveyed were visiting from Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the United Kingdom. Most visitors surveyed were between the ages of 35 and 54, and cited shopping, as well as trips to restaurants and bars, as their main activities while visiting Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico Tourism Company, www.seepuertorico.com