The Puerto Rico Planning Board conducted a recent Traveler Survey which shows the island where to focus efforts to offer tourists an experience that calls them to come back. The timing is ideal since Puerto Rico made the Nº1 destination in the New York Times “52 Places to Go” list. Puerto Rico has countless attractions topped by the kindness of its people.
In order to keep that place –that drives a vigorous recovery- it is essential for the government to comprehensively, coordinately and effectively address the security crisis that overshadows recent compliments.
According to the Traveler Survey, women prevail among the tourists who arrived in 2017. They come from the United States and spend an average of more than $ 800 per tourist. Those who rent houses spend almost $ 3,000 and stay for up to 12 days. Most travelers come on holiday and usually shop, go to restaurants, bars or pubs, sightsee, go to the beach and do water activities. They enjoy nightlife and concerts, as well as ecotourism. Millennial visitors top the list, followed by groups aged between 35 and 54.
Many venture out of San Juan, indicating the need to expand tourist offers on the island. Looking at the map of visited destinations, almost all of them on coastal areas, unexplored areas stand out: the center and a good part of the south, high-poverty and vulnerability areas. Therefore, they are areas with the greatest need to create economic activity.
In its recent review on Puerto Rico, the prestigious New York Time highlighted that visitors show more awareness and sensitivity towards their destinations. They seek to experience the local identity, and connect with people and their environment. They chose ecotourism, agrotourism and voluntourism. So, developing capabilities among the the areas in deep need of economic boost would the economic boost the most, would organically address this new visitor´s profile while closing inequality gaps.
Tourism supports about 77,000 jobs and has the potential to generate more throughout the island. To strengthen it, we must recognize the resources that our island offers. We are a musical country, our typical food is a delight for locals and visitors. Our offer ranges from a dry forest to the largest Caribbean tropical forest. In a recent tweet, American actor Adam Sandler, who has more than two million followers, thanked Puerto Rico and stressed our kindness when tweeting that he had “an incredible time everywhere we went and loved getting to meet so many warm and kind people,” during his vacation on the island.
We cannot underestimate expressions like that of the actor or the NY Times, that recognize how precious the island is. It is time to value ourselves more as people who have valuable attributes. Looking around us with fresh eyes to rediscover our wonders will lead us to identify new ways to share them with the world, with structure and planning.
If visitors like walks, let's make more walkable, safe, clean and illuminated cities. Let´s address coastal erosion threatened by climate change. Let's plant and care for our mangrove forests, our forests and our coral reefs, a natural barrier that protects beaches and incubators of the ocean´s ecosystem.
Let's support those communities that already working on their own cultural or agricultural projects. Let us empower those who face precariousness to identify opportunities to promote the best attractions on the island. Let´s facilitate the local ecosystems network that is necessary to create gastronomic, ecological or agrotourism offers, as non-profit entities are already doing. Each Puerto Rican is an ambassador to our visitors and a custodian of our resources.
The recent Traveler Survey offers guidelines on which the government, in coordination with other sectors, should plan for a sustainable touristic development. Puerto Rico has the resources that visitors are looking for. Let´s work on them for the island to re-enchant the world.