Discover Puerto Rico reports improvements in all metrics for Puerto Rico’s tourism industry this year. The number of visitors, the amount of revenue coming to hotels on the Island, and the number of people employed in the industry have all increased in 2023 compared with last year.
Discover Puerto Rico shared figures showing the growth:
- The economic impact of tourism from last July to May of this year hit $129.5 million, 16% higher than the previous year and 57% higher than the year before that.
- Travel spending in January was up by 26.7% compared with 2019.
- The number of air passengaers in January 2023 was 26.2% higher than 2019.
- For the same time periods, demand for hotel rooms was up by 24.4%.
- Hotels and rentals generated more than $500,000,000 in revenue in the first quarter of 2023, 24% higher than 2022 and 78% higher than 2019.
This is good economic news for Puerto Rico.
How is tourism doing in Puerto Rico?
As of 2019, Tourism provided just over 2% of Puerto Rico’s GDP, compared with 12% for Florida and 21% for Hawaii, so the 4% shown in the chart below is a significant improvement.
It still puts Puerto Rico behind the Dominican Republic and Cuba for the percentage of revenue provided by tourism, but this could reflect overall economic differences. Puerto Rico is ahead of most of her Caribbean neighbors at this point. However, according to World Data, when tourism numbers are gauged by population, Puerto Rico is 16th in the Caribbean.
There are some additional points to consider. One is that the current tourism figures include short-term rental properties, which are controversial. Another is that jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector may not be as secure or as well paid as dome other types of jobs. However, World Data calculates that each tourist spent over $700 on average. Expenditures in retail and other local businesses stay in the community and benefit the territory.
Tourism after statehood
The experience of Hawaii shows that tourism can be expected to increase significantly once Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state. While Puerto Rico celebrates a banner year for tourism, there is still room for expansion in the industry.