Nearly two years after suffering widespread damage from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s first-quarter 2019 hotel and lodging demand is “on par” with first-quarter 2018 levels, Discover Puerto Rico officials said this week.
Additionally, the forecast for the remainder of 2019 is “promising,” said officials at the destination marketing organization in a statement. “The remainder of 2019 is booking 24.1 percent higher [compared with] 2018 levels,” the officials added.
Puerto Rico’s inventory includes 156 hotels and resorts which are currently accepting reservations, said Discover Puerto Rico executives. The island’s hospitality sector also features “short-term rentals [that] provide travelers more than 8,000 options across Puerto Rico and the neighboring sister islands of Vieques and Culebra.”
“This is an exciting time for Puerto Rico’s visitor economy,” said Brad Dean, Discover Puerto Rico’s CEO. “However, this is just the first step. Our ultimate objective is to put the transformative power of travel to work in Puerto Rico by doubling the size of the visitor economy, benefiting the island’s residents and businesses.”
Puerto Rico’s other travel sectors also reported positive first-quarter 2019 results. San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport hosted a 23.8 percent increase in first-quarter 2019 air traffic compared with the same period in 2018 as carriers “expand capacity and add new routes,” according to the Discover Puerto Rico statement.
Meanwhile, officials at Puerto Rico’s cruise ports report a 28.9 percent year-over-year increase in January 2019 visitors compared with January 2018. The growth also reflects a 56.6 percent increase in January 2019 homeport cruise ship passengers compared with January 2018, officials said.
Online travel retailers are also reporting improved first-quarter data regarding Puerto Rico’s popularity, according to the Discover Puerto Rico statement. Priceline reported a 125 percent increase in first-quarter San Juan room-night bookings; Kayak.com found a 115 percent increase in 2019 Spring Break searches compared to 2018, with San Juan the most-searched destination in 30 out of 50 U.S. states.
“We learned a great deal from our tourism counterparts in other destinations who have faced adversity, and that helped focus our efforts,” said Dean. “We gleaned insights and historical data related to perception, and closely observed how media handled recovery coverage [and] optimized our plans to ensure strong results.”
“Puerto Rico is looking more and more like a historic comeback story,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “I’m proud to see the Island’s travel and tourism industry plays a starring role.”
Discover Puerto Rico launched several initiatives over the past year to re-ignite the island’s tourism activity in Hurricane Maria’s aftermath. As Maria’s one-year anniversary approached, Discover Puerto Rico premiered #CoverTheProgress, a social media campaign focused on post-storm progress in the local tourism industry.
In March, Discover Puerto Rico introduced a new logo and a revamped website. Last week Discover Puerto Rico launched “Have We Met Yet?” a brand campaign that “introduces Puerto Rico to the world and draws inspiration from the Island’s unique cultural and natural offerings.”
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