It’s national Tourist Appreciation Day, a day in which communities across the country that rely on tourists for jobs and income are intended to appreciate the visitors.
According to the World Economic Forum’s most recent rankings of competitiveness in the tourism industry, the United States is #6 in the world. Puerto Rico, which is ranked separately from the U.S. in this listing, is #52. That’s behind Iceland, Slovenia, and Croatia.
WEF’s rankings reflect the infrastructure and the stability of a destination as well as its natural beauty and friendly people.
Tourism accounts for only 6% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of Puerto Rico. That understates the industry’s importance in the economy, though. Puerto Rico’s GDP includes the value of products that some companies in the States attribute to manufacturing in the territory even though much of the value comes from contributions to the products made in the States. The companies attribute the value to their insular operations, however, to avoid Federal taxation, which they can because of an unintended loophole in Federal tax law.
Florida relies on tourism for 10% of its economy.
The tourism industry in Puerto Rico has seen a recent boost but, according to the World Bank, numbers of visitors fell from 3.7 million in 2005 to 3.2 million in 2013.
Hawaii saw a huge boost in tourism after statehood. Now, it accounts for 25% of the islands’ economy.
Puerto Rico could expect a similar benefit from statehood as other Americans visit the newest State.