Despacito, are People Traveling to Puerto Rico?

Since the song came out in April, music listeners throughout the world have had “Despacito” stuck in their heads. The catchy song by Puerto Ricans Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee has been viewed more than 3.2 billion times on YouTube. That’s a Billion, with a capital B.

People undoubtedly can’t get enough of the song or it’s famous line, "This is how we do it down in Puerto Rico," but can pop culture actually drive tourism? That’s a tricky question.

A Billboard article, 'Despacito' Boosts Puerto Rico's Economy, made the claim that

“tourist interest in traveling to Puerto Rico increased 45 percent since the song began to play worldwide.”

And, while that may not necessarily be untrue, interest in itself doesn’t “boost” an economy.

The Washington Post did a little extra digging into the claims - contacting the Puerto Rico Tourist Company and looking up the monthly hotel occupancy rates in Puerto Rico and comparing them to last year’s data. Ultimately, The Washington Post reported, “I hate to be the one to break it to you, but no, “Despacito” has not, in any tangible way, helped Puerto Rico’s ailing economy.”

So, what does this whole ordeal teach us about pop culture and how it affects travel demand? I’d say one thing is clear, if a song, movie, or even tv show gains enough attention, it absolutely influences consumers. In this case, it appears that the popular song has simply increased searches for a destination and hasn’t yet translated into bookings.

Boosted tourism in CroatiaBut, that’s not always the case. Hit television series Game of Thrones has driven visitors to its shoot-site in Croatia in droves. Similarly, the Lord of the Rings boosted New Zealand’s tourism. I guess it’s hit or miss. Maybe pop culture has the power to bring people to places they wanted to go anyways, but isn’t quite convincing enough to overcome fears of things like the Zika virus.

Regardless, Puerto Rico’s a beautiful country and now it’s on the map thanks to a song sensation.

Here’s some more travel news that you can use:

  • According to the Associated Press, Florida tourism continues to show signs of growth. Governor Rick Scott has today announced that 60.7 million tourists visited The Sunshine State in the first six months of 2017, a 4.1 percent year-over-year increase compared to 2016.

The increase is driven by a growing number of visitors coming from within the United States, while international travelers to Florida have decreased slightly.

Gov. Scott secured a deal to keep the Visit Florida budget in tact earlier this year.

  • CNN Money reported yesterday that Germany’s second biggest airline, Air Berlin, has filed for bankruptcy. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, Air Berlin’s leading shareholder, has declined to finance another bailout, spelling the end to an airline that serves over 2 million passengers a month.

However, Air Berlin will still take to the sky thanks to a $176 million loan from the German government. The loan will allow all 7,200 employees to remain employed as executives try to restructure or sell the company.

  • If tourism trends are any indication, the world is unfazed by North Korea’s threats. Skift is reporting that despite hostile rhetoric towards Guam from Kim Jong Un, the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, tourism to Guam remains unaffected.

    Sources: Billboard, The Washington Post, AP News, CNN Money, Skift

Posted by Pete Bahrenburg