SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rican economy stands to net roughly $28 million from a succession of international sporting events on the island, according to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, a state-run agency.
Agency director Mario Gonzalez used this week’s PGA Puerto Rico Open as an example of how important sports tourism is to the strategy for attracting visitors to the island.
Gonzalez said that over 2010-2011 some 50 sporting events will be held in Puerto Rico that are expected to reap around $28 million in revenue for the island’s hospitality industry.
He said that investment by organizers and the government to attract these events to Puerto Rico is slightly more than $7 million, which will mean a return on investment of roughly 400 percent.
He said that the Puerto Rico Open in progress at the Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande is perhaps the most important event held annually on the island.
The tourney brings with it a direct economic impact of almost $5 million, a sum that can be multiplied if one considers its indirect repercussions, according to data provided by Gonzalez, who acknowledged that his agency spends some $2.3 million on the event.
While it may be the highest-profile sporting competition hosted by the island, the Puerto Rico Open is far from the only one.
Last October the island welcomed the Association of Surfing Professionals Rip Curl Pro Search championship, calculated to have brought $2.5 million to the local economy.
And the Tourism Company, which had to invest $250,000 to bring the event to Puerto Rico, estimates that the actual economic impact was closer to $10 million counting indirect revenues.
The Ironman 70.3 comes to San Juan for the first time on March 19, bringing together some of the best triathletes in the world.
The beaches at Rincon on the west coast will be the scene this week of a contest on the Corona Extra Pro Surf circuit, an event that comes on the heels of the Puerto Rico BodyBoarding Contest held a week ago in Dorado.
Another standout sports event held in Puerto Rico in recent months were last summer’s Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayaguez, which brought in $3.5 million for hoteliers and restaurateurs.
Sports are only part of the government strategy for attracting tourists to Puerto Rico, which annually welcomes 5 million visitors, with an annual increase of close to 6 percent.
Tourism in Puerto Rico employs some 17,500 people and garners close to $3.3 billion in annual revenues, or 7 percent of the U.S. commonwealth’s economy. EFE