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2015 was a standout year for Puerto Rico tourism. A surge in the number of tourists landing in the country by both sea and air contributed almost $4 billion to the country’s economy, reflecting a 20 percent growth since 2012. More than 1.5 million travelers visited the island via cruise ship last year, an increase of more than 45 percent over 2013. The country also received more than 5 million visitors at its airports and ports for the first time since 2008, which resulted in an increase of visitor spending to $3.82 billion. By the end of 2016, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company hopes to see 10 million visitors arriving at Puerto Rico’s airports.
All of these milestones highlight the tourism board’s efforts to increase its contribution to the gross national income to 8 percent. Currently, its tourism contributes 7.1 percent.
These record-breaking numbers are in part thanks to the addition of 10 airlines, such as Volaris, flying to eight new destinations in the region. With the addition of these new routes, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company reported an increase in hotel registrations, which led to a record 71 percent occupancy rate and average room rate of about $160 in 2015.
But it wasn’t just new flight routes that contributed to Puerto Rico’s success. The country also played host to several international tourism events throughout 2015, including the International Tourism Expo (ETI), the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference & Operations Summit, Routes Americas, the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association’s Airline Leaders Forum and several others. ETI in particular drew more than 3,000 participants and contributed $1 million to the country’s economy. In September 2016, the country will again play host to another international event: the 23rd Annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Cruise Conference & Trade Show, which will draw thousands to the region.
Puerto Rico must now accommodate more visitors thanks to these record-breaking numbers. Since 2013, 1,000 new rooms have been added, and the country now boasts 15,000 available rooms. Currently, 4,000 rooms are being developed and constructed.