Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Fri March 11 2016

Puerto Rico Tourism Officials Target 10 Million Visitors In 2016

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | March 11, 2016

Puerto Rico Tourism Officials Target 10 Million Visitors In 2016

PHOTO: Puerto Rico is targeting 10 million visitors in 2016. (Photo by Brian Major).

Puerto Rico tourism officials are seeking to improve on a year in which the island’s hotel business achieved unprecedented success. Hotels catering to tourists recorded an average 71 percent occupancy rate in 2015 and also achieved a record average room rate of $157.43 in 2015.

Yet Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) officials are setting their sights even higher, targeting a doubling of the island’s current visitor total to 10 million in 2016.

Visitor numbers have increased among a renovation of Puerto Rico’s hotel base. The U.S. territory has added 1,000 new rooms since 2013, resulting in a record 15,000 available rooms, said officials. Another 4,000 rooms are in the “final stages” of development and construction.

New properties launched in San Juan over the past two years include a $29.7 million Hyatt Place San Juan hotel in the city’s convention center district and the historic Condado Vanderbilt hotel, which re-opened in San Juan’s Condado neighborhood last year following a $220 million renovation.

READ MORE: The Rise of Puerto Rico’s Bed and Breakfasts

Puerto Rico also reached milestones in its airline and cruise ship traffic in 2015, according to PRTC. Ten airlines launched new flights to eight Puerto Rico destinations in 2015, while cruise passengers totaled 1.5 million, a strong 9.5 percent increase over 2014 arrivals and a 45 percent increase over 2013, note PRTC officials.

Overall, Puerto Rico hosted five million visitors via its airports and cruise ship facilities in 2015, resulting in $3.82 billion in visitor spending. The figure represents a 20 percent increase since 2012 according to PRTC officials, who are targeting a doubling of total visitors to 10 million in 2016.

Clearly the economic woes that have dogged the U.S. territory have not dampened the island’s tourism industry on land or at sea. “We are all aware of the fiscal situation in which Puerto Rico finds itself,” said Ingrid Rivera Rocafort, PRTC’s executive director. “Yet the tourism sector and our visitors’ experience continue to benefit from investments and developments that enhance our island’s attraction[s].”

READ MORE: A Day-Trip to San Juan: Puerto Rico's Old Town

PRTC officials have also sought to promote Puerto Rico as a destination ideally suited for conferences and conventions. In February the island hosted the Routes Americas conference; San Juan will welcome the International Tourism Expo (ETI) in May, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Cruise Conference and Trade Show in September and the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operation Summit in November.

Last year’s inaugural ETI conference drew more than 3,000 participants and had an economic impact of more than $1 million, say PRTC officials.  

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