Discover Puerto Rico earns favorable opinion in audit
By The Star Staff
An audit of Discover Puerto Rico’s financial statements for fiscal year (FY) 2021 earned a favorable opinion from auditors.
The auditors did not issue any significant adverse findings in the destination marketing organization’s (DMO) management of funds to promote Puerto Rico as a tourist destination, officials said.
The findings come amid criticisms that the entity is spending too much money and of the quality of its campaign.
The audit, prepared by the firm RSM Puerto Rico, summarized that, in the FY 2021, Discover Puerto Rico had $47.4 million in revenue. That figure is $21.8 million more than the organization’s revenue for 2020.
The increase responds to new funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and an allocation from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program. Expenses amounted to $35.3 million, a smaller figure partly because instabilities in the visitor economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic delayed some promotion investments. However, that surplus was integrated into the schedule of promotional investments for the current fiscal year that ends in June.
“Since the creation of Discover Puerto Rico, all audited financial statements show that we have the appropriate internal controls to ensure a healthy administration of funds for the promotion of Puerto Rico as a tourist destination,” said Fernando Rodríguez, Discover Puerto Rico’s chief financial office. “This is consistent with our policy of transparency, professionalism and commitment to our goal of bringing the visitor economy to its optimum level.”
The document details that, in FY 2021, 84% ($29.7 million) of Discover Puerto Rico’s expenses were directly related to marketing efforts and sales promotion in leisure travel, business, events and conventions. The highest expense was in advertisement, with an investment of $21.5 million. That investment publicity targeted the primary and secondary markets that, in the U.S., include cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Florida, among others.
In addition, Discover Puerto Rico’s international advertising focused on Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany. The audited financial report also details that the payroll amounted to $4.7 million, equivalent to 13% of total expenses. On average, DMOs invest much more, around 35% of their costs, in salaries and benefits for employees.
“Discover Puerto Rico has remained an organization that prides itself on its efficiency by achieving great results with few resources,” Rodriguez said. “The great recovery achieved by the industry in recent months, after the difficulties brought by COVID-19, shows the benefits of concentrating as much of our resources as we can in promotional efforts.”