The San Juan Daily Star
Tourism promotions resume after pause necessitated by Fiona
By The Star Staff
Discover Puerto Rico announced Thursday it has resumed advertising efforts to attract visitors even though tourism revenues suffered little impact after the passage of Hurricane Fiona two weeks ago.
In a statement, the island’s destination marketing organization, or DMO, announced the continuation of its paid advertising efforts to attract visitors to the island following a two-week pause forced by Hurricane Fiona’s impact on Puerto Rico and its tourism industry. The firm will invest roughly $2.9 million for the remainder of the calendar year only in advertising that complements the public relations, sales, and promotional initiatives at trade fairs and industry events that continued uninterrupted in the days that followed the Category 1 storm.
To understand the impact of the hurricane on the tourism industry, Discover Puerto Rico said it collected data and commissioned a series of studies measuring both travel intent and the perception left by Hurricane Fiona on travelers. Findings showed that future bookings in short-term rentals decreased during the first week after the hurricane compared to the week before. However, by the second week, they had rebounded and were above pre-cyclone levels. For example, between the week before and after the storm, bookings on short-term rentals for December fell by 2%. By the second week after the cyclone, bookings were 11% above the pre-hurricane period. Future hotel bookings did not fall at all, but in fact increased during the week following the hurricane. A survey conducted by Strategic Marketing & Research Insights and carried out among potential customers after the hurricane showed that the positive perception and the probability of travel within the next 12 months remained at similar levels to previous months. Also, 79% of those surveyed perceived that Puerto Rico was already open to travelers or would be soon. Destination Analysts found that, after the hurricane, 65% of potential travelers still perceived Puerto Rico as an attractive destination. This percentage is lower than what was recorded in March of this year (76%) but higher than the 58% recorded in April 2021, the year in which the industry broke records in lodging income, room tax revenues and visitor expenditures.
The resumption of paid advertising began Monday, Oct. 3, and will boost future bookings that already showed a positive trend during the second week following Hurricane Fiona, the DMO said.
“While we recognize that many communities continue to face difficulties brought on by Hurricane Fiona, we see that our island has come a long way in the recovery, and we understand as urgent the protection of the 90,300 jobs generated by the tourism industry in Puerto Rico that depend on us receiving a high level of visitation,” said José Suárez, chairman of Discover Puerto Rico’s board of directors.
“We trust that our Puerto Rican spirit, which we are all proud of and always celebrate, will continue to open the path toward normality and stability,” said Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean. “It is up to Discover Puerto Rico to redouble our efforts to boost tourism and retain the place we have earned among travelers.”
Days before Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the southwestern corner of the island, Discover Puerto Rico issued a series of alerts to travelers and redirected efforts to guide and provide information about the hurricane to visitors and the industry.
Subsequently, the organization started identifying attractions, businesses, and points of interest that suffered damage. Once businesses had been consulted and the information grouped, the organization promoted communications through its website, on its social channels, and with international and specialized tourism media about the state of the local industry and the areas suitable for receiving visitors.
Similarly, the teams at Discover Puerto Rico that promote events and conventions on the island addressed the concerns of planners and, with their efforts, prevented cancellations. The teams continued their promotions schedule at trade shows in the mainland United States and internationally. Discover Puerto Rico maintained its participation in Brand USA Travel Week, the largest trade fair promoting European travel to the United States and its territories. The marketing team also participated in the Skift Global Tourism Forum and joint promotions with Condé Nast in London and Madrid, among many others.