PR’s Tourism Industry Recovery: 2018 – 2019

Key findings of the report commissioned to Inteligencia Económica Inc. by the Puerto Rico Hotel Association (PRHTA). The report was presented last Tuesday, during the PRHTA Annual Convention.

  • Tourism in Puerto Rico and the US’s economy are very strongly linked. Growth in total visitors to the island has gone up or down at roughly the same rate as growth in GDP in the United States in the years between 2011 and 2017.

  • Total hotel wages and employees had been steadily growing up until hurricane María. In 2018 though, they went through a steep drop. Total wages went down 20% and total employees by 22%.

  • Total cruise passengers, total cruise ships and the average daily rate paid for hotel rooms all reached a high point in 2015.

  • The average daily rate, after going down in 2018, has shown signs of recovery this year. On average they have been $9 higher than in 2018.

  • The total amount of hotel registrations has also gone up compared to 2018. There have been 1.58 million registrations up until August this year compared to 1.31 million at the same time last year. This is an increase of 32.64%. We are still 14% below the pre-María 5-year average of 1.84 million.

  • Even though hotel registrations have gone up, the occupation rate has gone down 6 percentage points from 72% in 2018 up until August to 71% this year. This could be due to the amount of hotel rooms available going up with more hotels opening after María. This rate this year so far is still higher than the pre-María average of 69% occupancy.

  • So far this year, we have had 120,000 more cruise ship passengers and 34 more cruise ships arriving in San Juan than at the same point last year. The 1.27 million passengers we have had so far this year is the highest amount we have seen in the past 5 years. The cruise industry has been a bright spot this year.

  • The amount of Airbnb listings on the island has gone up by nearly 900% since its arrival in 2015. These represent a serious issue for the island thanks to the effect that they can have on local housing and employment.

  • Tourists staying in Airbnb’s tend to stay for longer than ones staying in hotels. Airbnb argues that this leads to increased spending in local businesses and thus no decreased tax revenue. However, average tourist expenditure has remained stable for the past 5 years.

  • The average daily rate for an Airbnb has remained above that of hotels but there are 2 important things to note. Many Airbnb listings can comfortable fit up 4 people, so the cost per visitor may be lower. Also, the average daily rates show that Airbnb owners can often be faster to change their prices due to seasonal fluctuations. These two factors combine to make Airbnb’s very attractive to tourists