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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Discover Puerto Rico board chairman defends CEO’s pay hike

Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean

By The Star Staff

José M. Suárez, chairman of the board of directors of Discover Puerto Rico, says Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean’s contract was extended for three years as the board appears to be happy with his performance and insisted he deserved an approved salary hike even though it is low compared to what CEOs like him make in the mainland U.S.

“After working for a year with an expired contract, the board of directors of our organization approved a new contractual agreement with our chief executive officer, Brad Dean, which extends for three additional years his impeccable leadership in the promotion of Puerto Rico abroad as a tourist destination,” Suárez said. “The board approved an increase from $250,000 to $275,000 per year, and maintained the 30% productivity bonus. Brad Dean’s contract adjustment was made after an exhaustive and thorough transparent metrics and benchmarking process by the board of directors.”

Meanwhile, Popular Democratic Party Rep. Ángel Matos García charged Tuesday that Dean would be getting a raise of $100,000 a year even though Discover Puerto Rico said the pay hike would be $25,000 per year.

The contract adjustment brings Dean closer to a compensation almost similar to those received by his peers in the mainland U.S. and other CEOs in Puerto Rico, a “crucial element in our task of retaining the talent that has managed to overcome obstacles and establish records of income to the Treasury for accommodation, arrival of passengers, and travel expenses, among other items,” Suárez said.

The board said it is aware that due to salary differences between Puerto Rico and U.S. jurisdictions, the compensation could be perceived as substantial on the island.

“However, it is a relatively low compensation compared to what executives in similar positions earn in the United States and on the island,” Suárez said. “For a destination marketing organization with a budget similar to that of the Puerto Rico DMO [between $30 and $50 million], the median base salary for CEOs is around $415,000 annually. When special bonuses are added, the median compensation is around $458,104. Although the DMO has a fixed income of $25 million by law, it administers federal funds that, for the next two years, will raise the budget for promoting Puerto Rico abroad to over $50 million.”

Over the past four years, under Dean’s leadership and that of other travel executives, the industry has weathered hurricanes and earthquakes, and is recovering from a pandemic that has dismantled the travel industry worldwide, Suárez said.

Tourism promotion abroad has been effective to the point that in the midst of all the extraordinary challenges, since the creation of the DMO, growth records have been broken for tourism, last year being one of the most impressive with income from accommodation of over $1.3 billion, a figure that exceeds the previous record in this line by 37%.

The Discover Puerto Rico board said it watches over every dollar that is invested, as well as the return on investment.

“And, unlike other entities -- private or governmental -- at Discover Puerto Rico we do not approve increases without results,” Suárez said. “In the case of Brad Dean, as we have reiterated, the results are explicit and consistent year after year, and are public for the scrutiny of the people.”

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