Amid a Healthy Rebound, Puerto Rico Unveils Fresh Branding Initiative and New Developments
Puerto Rico is no stranger to crises, having faced and overcome major challenges such as the Zika virus outbreak and Hurricane Irma over the past several years. COVID-19 has been no exception, with the destination showing its profound resiliency as it emerges from the pandemic.
Brad Dean, president and CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, highlighted some of the promising numbers at the recent MPI WEC in San Francisco, along with the newly launched "Make Your Meetings Boricua" branding initiative and venue developments.
“Rebuilding has been vitally important over the past four years and to position Puerto Rico to not just come back but to come back bigger and better and stronger,” Dean said. “And to not just recover but to put the transformative power of tourism to work for our people and realize the importance of meetings and events, perhaps more so today than ever before”
He added, “We're excited about what lies ahead, especially as it relates to meetings and events.”
Discover Puerto Rico released the following industry statistics that point toward continued optimism:
- As of end of March, Puerto Rico saw the highest non-resident visitor spending, totaling $4.5 billion.
- Total lodging revenue through May was 56% higher than the same period last year.
- To date, hotels have generated $469.8 million in revenue, the highest number since 2015, when it totaled $406.2 million, resulting in a 15.6% increase.
- Year-to-date, San Juan Airport arrivals reached a 23% increase over the same period in 2021, with just over 2.1 million passengers reported, the highest number since 2017. In May, the airport welcomed 465,000 arrivals, a 4% increase over May 2021.
Key meetings and events industry statistics and developments include the following:
- Through September, hotels are booking 20% higher than the same period last year, highly driven by increases in group bookings, which have risen 35% over pre-pandemic levels.
- Puerto Rico will be hosting and participating in a variety of upcoming conventions, sporting events, trade shows and conferences.
- The Island most recently hosted Connect Marketplace and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) in May and will also be hosting the U.S. Travel Association Summer Board of Directors Meeting in July and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) in October.
Meanwhile, Discover Puerto Rico is inviting event professionals to take advantage of its newly launched “Live Boricua” campaign, which aims to tap into the lively spirit of the Puerto Rican people and the rich cultural heritage of the island.
“Boricua is used to refer to someone of Puerto Rican descent, but what we’re really referring to with the campaign is the lifestyle of the island’s people—their joyful, passionate exuberance,” Dean said. “We believe this is a critical component to travel and tourism, and in particular, meetings and events.”
He added, “It’s an invitation to come for business but more importantly, to come alive with the experiences and immersing yourself in the vibrant culture.”
Following are some of the many ways event professionals can incorporate Puerto Rican culture into meetings and events:
- Art Experiences: The Island boasts everything from colorful and vibrant street murals to contemporary and chic art museums.
- Food and Beverage: Attendees can experience local flavors, highly influenced by Puerto Rico’s unique blend of African, Spanish and Taino heritages, through food tours with local guides. Experiences such as touring coffee haciendas, rum distilleries and farms are also widely available to showcase the behind-the-scenes processes of some of the island’s most important products.
- Nature and Adventure: Puerto Rico boasts incredible natural wonders and ecosystems that allow visitors to enjoy the outdoors, including visiting a Bio Bay—Puerto Rico houses three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays—and hiking or bathing in natural pools at El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.
- Team-Building and CSR: Puerto Rico offers a wide variety of team-building activities as well as experiences that can help meet an organization’s corporate social responsibility goals. Examples include salsa and bomba workshops, rainforest hunts and visits to local art galleries.
Expanding Venue Lineup
The five-acre experiential complex is an ideal option for off-site events, conventions and performances, offering a multisensory, audiovisual and technologically advanced experience. Distrito T-Mobile was designed to be the best in global retail, destination dining, art, entertainment, music, technology, and hospitality.
Highlights include more than 14,000 square feet of LED displays and sensory-engagement technology, including the largest 4K horizontal LED screen in the Americas. Distrito T-Mobile also features the Coca-Cola Music Hall, a state-of-the-art concert facility that can accommodate up to 2,000 all-seated to 4,000 mostly standing attendees.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico currently has more than 163 hotel options with nearly 14,500 rooms open and operating.
Recent developments include the following:
- Residence Inn San Juan Isla Verde opened in May with 231 suites. It is the first new-branded flagship property in Isla Verde in 25 years.
- Fairmont El San Juan relaunched its historic lobby and welcomed Foxwoods El San Juan Casino.
- San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino finished a ballroom renovation and will be renovating it main tower this year.
- Dorado Beach, Ritz-Carlton Reserve was sold for $193 million to hotel investment firm Braemar.
- Sheraton Old San Juan was recently acquired by Driftwood Capital and will be converted to a Tribune by Marriott.
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