Here's a way Our (non)governor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño can save about $175 million from what passes for a budget in his (non)administration: Fire the Tourism Company. (You thought it was some other verb with the letter "f," right? So did I. Still do.)
Fire them all. Close down the damn pigpen of corporate interests unrelated to true Puerto Rico tourism growth. Do. It. Now. Before We lose more than We can recover in a generation.
Think I exaggerate? A generation ago (circa 1990), We were the Number 1 Caribbean destination. We had slipped in Our lead, but We were Number 1. Guess where We are now? Not Number 1. And slipping year after year.
The Tourism Company is to marketing Puerto Rico what Genghis Khan was to the Church of Rome: a smelly scourge. The pigpen serves a master of rapine beast called the "Big Industry Airline Travel Corporate Hotels" cartel, better known as BIATCH. They call the shots and narrowly define tourism as "what's good for them" rather than "what's good for Puerto Rico." And so far, the twain seldom if ever meet.
What airline dominates air travel to Puerto Rico? American Airlines. What airline has the most former high-ranking employees now "serving" in the Tourism Company? Uh-huh. What percentage of the estimated $175 million budget goes to marketing Puerto Rico? About 13% if you round way up. How much goes to marketing Puerto Rico outside of the U.S. of part of A.? 11%, if you round up in a good year. That means that roughly 1.5% of the puny marketing budget of the BIATCH-led pigpen goes to advertise in markets other than that dominated by...American Airlines.
Is it any wonder that the Dominican Republic gets about 2.4 million tourists a year from Europe while We get about 200,000--basically those stranded at Our airport on the way to some other place?
How much of the BIATCH-pigpen "marketing" effort goes to the Internet? Guess. No, go ahead, guess. Yours is as good as Mine which is as good as "who the f--- knows?" Here's what We do know and can prove easily: Do a search as if you were traveling to Puerto Rico then rate the results as either positive or negative about Us. That's where the money should be spent, where roughly 61% of travelers are starting their travel plans. Then notice how many of the Puerto Rico sites are in a language other than English or Spanish...
The Tourism Company has had one brilliant idea in the past 20 years and because it happened on a holiday weekend, no one knew what it was. From changing slogans just to spend money ("Come to the Continent of Puerto Rico," "Puerto Rico Does It Better," "Puerto Rico U.S.A.," "Go Puerto Rico" and My suggested-but-never-used "Puerto Rico: Closed For Repairs") to subdividing the Island into "tourism regions" and then STILL spending money to push only the BIATCH-rich San Juan area, the Tourism Company is to Our beaches what an oil spill is: a noxious ugly stain.
So, fire 'em.
What do We replace them with? Why slap My buns and call Me Trixie, I got ideas:
--Create a contest and pick the 10 best website designs and campaigns to promote Puerto Rico.
--Hire 10 local ad agencies and have them compete for tourism marketing contracts ranging from one to 3 years in duration. Cap the maximum contract at $3 million and all the others maxing out at $1 million.
--Spread funds to the regional areas such as Porta del Sol (west coast) and Porta Caribe (south coast) so they can implement their own marketing campaigns. Give the small hotel associations their own funding for marketing.
--Create a "Tourism Evaluation System" database that not only targets visitors to Puerto Rico for their opinions, but also monitors what's being said about Our tourism components on the Web. Use that to improve the overall quality of experience amongst the related companies (hotels, airlines, transportation, restaurants, shops, etc.)
--Partner with the Dominican Republic to offer 2-for-1 deals--2 Islands for the Price of 1. Yes, they have lower labor costs and more hotel rooms, but if We focus on what We have instead of what they have, We can find a solid market that benefits both countries. First step: We need to lose the attitude that they are "beneath" Us. My Brethren know exactly what I mean.
--Create Our own airline, by either buying into someone other than American Airlines and its prima puta attitude or partnering routes with other airlines. As for the other way to bring people here, lower the damn port fees for cruise ships and add companies capable of providing "4 Hour Experiences" to cruise ship passengers. Unless We offer them Our unique attractions in user-friendly ways, We'll never get them off the damn boats to spend more money here. (Yes, I called them "boats.")
I've got more ideas, but so do you if you set your mind to it. Making Our tourism better is one of the few industries We have near-total control over, thus it is a powerful tool in Our arsenal of economic growth. We need to improve it by making it Our own tool again, wresting it from the hands of a greedy BIATCH who for all intents and purposes hates Us.
The Jenius Has Spoken.