Destination Weddings Add $16 Million To Puerto Rico's Local Economy

Puerto Rico might still be in recovery mode after nearly being flattened by Hurricane Maria in 2017, but that hasn't stopped a number of hardy movers and shakers from pushing the vacation amenities of the Caribbean island. One venture that many in the hospitality industry is eyeing intensely is the prospect of attracting more wedding tourism dollars.

Also called destination weddings, the idea of people tying the knot at a locale that could double as a honeymoon junket is an attractive one. Wedding tourism not only adds quite an exotic vibe to the nuptials, it's also an economic driver to where the ceremonies take place.

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For openers, it annually contributes $16 million to the U.S. economy, thanks to couples wishing to tie the knot on the mainland. For a Puerto Rican event planners like Hayxanair Hernández Sánchez, the prospect of more destination weddings on the island are irresistible.

“It’s amazing to see how more couples choose our island; not only for its natural beauty, but for other attractions that include our history, our geographical location and our festive and gastronomic culture," said Sánchez in The Weekly Journal.

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Roughly one out of four weddings opting for a destination-style exchange of vows, but while there's a sense of adventure about getting hitched in a remote location, that's not always the motivation. Some rough numbers compiled by various hospitality industries peg an average local wedding at nearly $34,000. Destination weddings, which normally consists of less than 50 onlookers and factor in such checklist items as guests paying their own way and a honeymoon in the same location, roughly cost around $20,000.

That's not only a cheaper option for families footing the bill, but when doing the math, if even a thousand destination weddings take place in Puerto Rico every year, that's a cool $20 million for the island economy.

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Puerto Rico also has a cheaper standard of living, with restaurants and hotels boasting prices lower than on much of the U.S. mainland. Its crime rate is also lower, and even in the wake of Hurricane Maria, there's no shortage of breathtaking local scenery.

And even though tourism sites like Trip Savvy don't have Puerto Rico listed on their destination wedding top 10, hospitality movers and shakers like Sánchez are likely determined to see that change.

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