Tourism in Puerto Rico

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Tourism in Puerto Rico attracted 3.7 million visitors in 2016 and 3.5 million visitors in 2015, a notable increase from the average of 2010-2014 at 3.1 million. Tourism has been a very important source of revenue for Puerto Rico for a number of decades given it is host to diverse natural wonders, cultural and historical buildings, concerts and sporting events. Visitors from the United States do not need a passport to enter Puerto Rico and the ease of travel attracts a large number of tourists from the mainland United States each year. Other groups of tourists that visit Puerto Rico in significant numbers include British, French, German, Spaniards, Canadians, Mexicans, Venezuelan, Brazilians and Asian tourists.

Tourism growth[edit]

The inauguration of the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel on 16 October 1919 marked the beginning of upscale tourism in Puerto Rico.[1] The tourism industry experienced moderate levels of growth in 2014, driven primarily by the introduction of new cruise lines and airfare activity and the development of new hotels on the island. Nonstop flights to Puerto Rico from Frankfurt, Madrid, Bogota, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York are currently available. New direct routes from Europe and Latin America are in the works.


Cuba and Puerto Rico have perennially competed for the top tourist destination in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico's tourism has been helped by poor U.S. relations with Cuba. In 2015, the U.S. reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba and loosened the travel restrictions for Americans. This decision boosted Cuban tourism and surpassed Puerto Rico for total visitors, but in 2017, the U.S. government planned to re-enforce travel restrictions to Cuba.[2] Puerto Rico also competes with the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Jamaica and Florida for American and international visitors.[2] Tourists going to Saint Barthélemy catch a connecting flight from Puerto Rico.[3]

Marketing campaigns[edit]

La Perla, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican tourism board spent $1 million in 2002, featuring celebrities, to advertise the tourism to Puerto Rico.[4] In 2017, Despacito, a wildly popular song by two Puerto Rican artists caused a spike in tourism to Puerto Rico, especially to an area of San Juan called La Perla, featured in the song's video.[5]On July 1, 2018, Puerto Rico's government passed a law to create a new tourism organization, Discover Puerto Rico. This is part of a larger plan to use tourism to revitalize the island after Hurricane Maria.[6][7]



As of 2015, Puerto Rico had 19 casinos, mainly located in San Juan.[8]

Located on the northwestern part of the island are Aguadilla, where the old Ramey Air Force Base is located; Arecibo, famous for its observatory and Rincón favored for its surf.

Bayamón has a Science Park. Cabo Rojo is famous for its beautiful beaches. Cataño has the Bacardi factory, the world's largest rum distillery.

Fajardo has the Fajardo Lighthouse and a luminicent bay, Las Croabas fishing village, the Paso Fino horse national competition ring, and the Seven Seas beach. On the northeastern side, beaches in Luquillo include Balneario La Monserrate, Playa Azul, La Pared, and La Selva - the last two, sandy bottom surf spots where leatherback turtles often nest.

In the southwest are Mayagüez, home of the Dr. Juan A. Rivero Zoo and the local beer, Medalla brewery; and Ponce with its 19th century historic district. There are over 1,046 restored buildings, plus the world-renowned Museo de Arte de Ponce, the imposing Castillo Serrallés, the nostalgic Hacienda Buena Vista coffee plantation, and its whimsical Parque de Bombas firehouse in Ponce.

San Juan has Old San Juan, with its cobble-stone streets and small alleys, the Puerto Rican Museum of Art, and the El Morro Castle, an old fortress. Near San Juan is El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. with 30,000 acres—a place to hike and see waterfalls.[9] During the 2019 government shutdown, San Juan's two colonial-era fortresses—Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal—were closed to visitors.[10][11] However, since the end of the shutdown on January 25, 2019, they have since been reopened.[12]

Trujillo Alto is home to Lake Carraizo Dam. Two smaller Puerto Rican islands are Culebra island, with its solitary beaches such as Flamenco Beach is another popular destination spot; and Vieques with many beaches, two Spanish castles and lighthouses, eye-catching mountains and sought-after marine reefs.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Flores, Ronald. "New Hotels on the Horizon". (February/March 2009) ¡Qué Pasa!. Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b DiNapoli, Jessica (27 July 2015). "Puerto Rico tourism industry lags rivals, offers little relief from debt crisis". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2 March 2017.
  3. ^ Villa-Clarke, Angelina (29 July 2017). "Why This Hidden Gem In St Barts Is Redefining How To Stay In The Caribbean". Forbes. Archived from the original on 30 July 2017.
  4. ^ David Bowen; Jackie Clarke (2009). Contemporary Tourist Behaviour: Yourself and Others and Tourists. CABI. pp. 174–. ISBN 978-1-84593-520-7.
  5. ^ Marcor, Leila (31 July 2017). "Tourists seeking Despacito" discover Puerto Rico's La Perla". Yahoo.
  6. ^ "Puerto Rico Emerges From Hurricane Maria With a Plan and New Hope for Tourism". Skift. 2018-07-12. Retrieved 2019-01-04.
  7. ^ "Discover Puerto Rico: Island DMO's new name announced". Caribbean Business. 2018-07-16. Retrieved 2019-01-04.
  8. ^ William N. Thompson Ph.D. (10 February 2015). Gambling in America: An Encyclopedia of History, Issues, and Society, 2nd Edition. ABC-CLIO. pp. 340–. ISBN 978-1-61069-980-8.
  9. ^ Vazquez, Henley (11 September 2014). "Enchanted Isle: Puerto Rico". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 3 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Puerto Rico closes colonial-era forts due to U.S. government shutdown". Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  11. ^ "Puerto Rico closes colonial-era forts due to US shutdown". AP NEWS. 2019-01-07. Retrieved 2019-01-17.
  12. ^ "Puerto Rico Tourism Update 2019 | ViaHero". Retrieved 2019-01-28.


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