• The San Juan Daily Star

Tourism jobs make near-complete recovery from pandemic losses

By October of this year, the number of people employed in the island tourism sector stood at 79,200 -- just 1,300 fewer than pre-pandemic levels -- indicating the recovery of 28,800 jobs.

By The Star Staff

The solid reactivation of the tourism industry experienced in 2021 has allowed Puerto Rico, as of October, to recover 96% of the jobs that were lost in this sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggest that between March and April 2020 the number of people employed in the Leisure and Hospitality sector fell from 80,500 to 50,400, which implies a loss of 30,100 jobs.

By October of this year, however, the number of people employed in the sector stood at 79,200. That figure, which is on an upward trend, is just 1,300 less than pre-pandemic levels and implies the recovery of 28,800 jobs.

“This recovery that we are seeing in the tourism industry fills us with optimism,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. “Not only is the industry experiencing record levels of revenue from accommodations and visitors, but this is translating into the recovery of jobs that were lost during the pandemic.”

Leah Chandler, chief marketing officer for Discover Puerto Rico, added that “the work carried out by our organization during the pandemic and in the months that followed has contributed to increasing consumer confidence in Puerto Rico’s commitment to health and safety.”

“This, in addition to strong marketing and sales strategies, has significantly increased the number of people considering and booking trips to the island,” she said.

During the first month of the pandemic, jobs in the tourism sector experienced the sharpest drop among the various industry sectors. Jobs were reduced by 37%. After tourism was the information sector, with a decrease of 19%.

Tourism, however, has the second most jobs created or recovered since then among island sectors. The 28,800 jobs recovered is surpassed only by the commerce, transportation and utilities sector, which has added 33,200 jobs in the past 18 months.

Currently, Puerto Rico’s tourism industry is in one of its best years. Accommodation revenues up to October exceeded $1 billion ($1.051 billion) for the first time and by November, 4.38 million passengers had arrived on the island through Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, the highest figure in at least a decade.

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