SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Dec. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite a challenging year, demand for the destination of Puerto Rico in 2016 remains strong. Coming off of a historic record breaking 2015, The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is reaching its aggressive goal of welcoming ten million passengers to Puerto Rico airports. Since the start of Zika, total hotel registrations from Jan.-Sept. in 2016 are 1.6% above 2015 and non-resident hotel registrations are 1.4% above the record breaking year. The PRTC's comprehensive "facts over fear" program to protect its residents and annual visitors continues to be instrumental.
"Puerto Rico's tourism in 2016 remained extremely resilient despite a challenging year. Our comprehensive education campaign was instrumental in informing and arming travelers with the facts about Zika for a worry free experience on the island, mitigating the impact on an essential industry to the island's economy," said Ingrid Rivera Rocafort, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC). "Additionally, the PRTC, Meet Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA) worked together to ensure the safety of visitors to Puerto Rico."
Tourism contributes nearly $4 billion to Puerto Rico's economy and is the first industry to come out of the Island's five-year recession. 2016 highlights that underscore the continued demand for travel, by air and sea, to Puerto Rico include:
- 10 million passengers will be welcomed by Puerto Rico Airports by the end of 2016
- 11 new airlines have arrived in 3 years, and over half a million new inbound seats, including Iberia and Allegiant Airlines starting service in 2016
- 94% room tax collected in 2016 compared to 87% in 2015, collecting an incremental $2 million in tax revenue, a 137% growth from 2012
- 70.4% hotel occupancy in 2015-16 reported from Jan.-August compared to 67.9% in 2012
- 1.5 million Cruise passengers arrived to Puerto Rico in 2015 with 1.6 million passengers expected in 2017-18
- Number one home port confirmed for cruise ships in the Caribbean attracting the world's newest vessels including the world's largest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas (6780 passengers) which is scheduled to arrive in San Juan in December 2016
- From March to September 2016 Meet Puerto Rico hosted 132 groups with more than 211,000 attendees and not one Zika case reported from those attendees as per the CDC. Key conferences and conventions include the Routes Americas conference, the International Tourism Expo (ETI), the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Cruise Conference and Trade Show and the Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operation Summit, Congreso Internacional de la Lengua Española VII, Jehovah's Witness and National Head Start Association among others, offsetting Zika related cancellations From March to September 2016.
High demand for Puerto Rico can also be attributed to the support of high profile Puerto Rican influencers who came together to spread the word about the island's beauty and offerings, putting Zika in perspective. Broadway star Chita Rivera, TV Host Maria Celeste and Baseball stars Carlos Correa and Ivan Rodriguez and Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig are some of the celebrities who spoke out in support of Puerto Rico. Medical influencers also voiced their support for continued exploration and travel, educating travelers about facts over fear. Doctors who helped spread the word included the late esteemed epidemiologist Dr. D.A. Henderson, Distinguished Scholar at the UPMC Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Jason James, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baptist Hospital in Miami; and Dr. Joseph Rosado, a Primary Care and Emergency Care Physician in Orange City, FL.
The Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association also collaborated with the PRTC to break through the Zika hype with a compelling message and strong voice. An aggressive media educational outreach program was activated to dissipate the fears and communicate the real facts about Zika. "Starting in February, we worked with the PRTC to change the Zika conversation," said Clarisa Jimenez, President and CEO of the PRHTA. "The CDC called us "Ground Zero for Zika Virus" and projected that 25 percent of Puerto Rico's population would have the virus. That has not materialized with currently less than 1 percent of the population reporting Zika. We have been able to cut through the hype to reassure visitors that Puerto Rico is a destination where anyone can enjoy a worry-free vacation by taking simple precautions."
The PRTC has continued working closely with the CDC and the local Department of Public Health to ensure visitors are informed about Zika in Puerto Rico. For more information about the Zika virus in Puerto Rico, visit PuertoRicoNow.SeePuertoRico.com.
About Puerto Rico Tourism Company
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), founded in 1970, is a public corporation responsible for stimulating, promoting and regulating the development of the tourism industry. It markets Puerto Rico as a tourism destination through advertising, public relations and promotional activities; promotes tourism among visitors and local residents; provides visitor orientation and technical assistance to investors; evaluates tourism facilities and establishes standards of quality; and regulates and oversees gaming operations. PRTC has offices and representatives in the U.S. mainland, Canada, Europe and Latin America.
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SOURCE Puerto Rico Tourism Company