Bill to make Tourism Co. a public corporation headed for governor’s desk
By The Star Staff
The bill that would make the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. a public corporation is on its way to La Fortaleza for the governor’s signature, House Speaker Rafael Hernández Montañez announced Sunday.
House Bill 14, which is authored by the Popular Democratic Party delegation, would revert the Tourism Co. to its previous condition of public corporation. The entity had been put under the Economic Development and Commerce Department (DDEC).
The legislation goes against the commonwealth fiscal plan, which has recommended the consolidation of the Tourism Co. within DDEC as part of efforts to streamline government.
Hernández Montañez said the previous administration’s Reorganization Plan No. 1 resulted in the elimination of the Tourism Co., which was the only agency responsible for the development of tourism public policy on the island.
“In times when the tourism industry has been so impacted, this Legislative Assembly is taking a successful step to promote and position this economic sector with a new model based on sustainable tourism,” Hernández Montañez said. “Now, it is up to the governor to decide if he is going to be part of this effort. Our request is that you sign this law.”
The House leader said that “with the new vision of transformation embodied in this measure, we must change the paradigm and not only evaluate the models of success, but learn from them and take a step further through the creation of a new Tourism Company of Puerto Rico strengthened with the integration of new programs and corporations.”
“Currently, the tourism industry represents 6.7% of the gross national product, with an average visitor spending of $4.1 billion,” he said. “From the employment point of view, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tourism has represented around 80,000 direct and indirect jobs in recent years. According to the long-term forecasts of the World Tourism Organization, included in Tourism Towards 2030, international tourist arrivals on a global scale will grow by 3.3% annually between 2010 and 2030, reaching 1.8 billion tourists.”
The previous administration transferred tourism attraction efforts, including internal (on-island), airline, and event marketing responsibilities and funding from the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) to Discover Puerto Rico.
The 2021 Fiscal Plan requires DDEC to realize front and back-office personnel efficiencies as the department consolidates other agencies. Specifically, DDEC has to reduce front-line personnel by 20% by fiscal year (FY) 2022 to produce a streamlined and efficient organization.
To date, DDEC has made substantial progress by operationally consolidating 70% of agencies.
At the beginning of FY 2021, the PRTC transferred some 157 employees to the Gaming Commission.