During a presentation to members of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA) Annual Convention, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), Terestella Gonzalez Denton, emphasized that Puerto Rico continues to be the leading Caribbean destination, attracting the most visitors and highest revenue per room in the region.
The Executive Director did recognize Puerto Rico faces strong competition in the Caribbean region, and stated PRTC is continually working to remain ahead. "Three weeks ago, we met with the industry and developed a new Tourism & Transportation Strategic Plan, immediately upon the conclusion of our previous five-year plan. We are staying the course with our Strategic Plan, in partnership with the industry, to increase air access, develop more hotel rooms and continue to diversify and improve our tourism product," Gonzalez Denton concluded.
Tourism has been identified by Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila as a crucial area for economic development in Puerto Rico. According to Secretary of Economic Development & Commerce Ricardo Cardona, the roadmap to economic stability for the island includes tourism development as a key initiative. Efforts are under way to facilitate the permitting process and reduce the cost of doing business on the island in order to meet the five-year goals of the Strategic Plan, including an additional 5,000 hotel rooms in a framework of sustainability and balance with the environment, increased flights and cruises, and implementation of an aggressive branding program.
Using the most recent statistics available from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Gonzalez Denton responded to a study presented by PRHTA during the Convention, by emphasizing that Puerto Rico received over one million more visitors than the Dominican Republic in 2004, with a total of 4.9 million visitors in comparison to 3.9 million visitors. She also stated that between 2003 and 2004, the number of visitors to Puerto Rico increased by 11 percent, while the Dominican Republic saw a growth of 6 percent during the same period.
Gonzalez Denton explained that, although the report showed the Dominican Republic's tourism revenue surpassing Puerto Rico in 2004 with $3.1 billion vs. $3.024 billion, in actuality, Puerto Rico's total revenue increased by 13 percent between 2003 and 2004 in comparison to 0.8 percent for the Dominican Republic.
Furthermore, the Director emphasized that although the Dominican Republic has five times more hotel rooms than Puerto Rico (in 2004, according to the UNWTO the Dominican Republic had 58,932 rooms compared to 12,684 in Puerto Rico), the revenue per room in Puerto Rico is almost five times higher than that of the Dominican Republic, generating a greater impact on the island's economy and tourism industry. "Overall, we remain a leader in the industry and the report presented yesterday by economist Heidi Caelero at the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association's conference utilizes data available up to 2003, and does not take into consideration more recent statistics from the UNWTO." she said. "Our leadership position is not the emphasis of our plans. Our Plan is designed to ensure that tourism does have a significant impact on the economy and lifestyle of the citizens of our island."
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