After a year of rollercoaster COVID-19 infection rates, on-again, off-again lockdown restrictions, and quarantine boredom, Americans are dreaming of traveling again.
As coronavirus vaccine efforts gain momentum, tourism companies are witnessing significant increased interest in post-pandemic travel. Survey data indicates that nearly 68% of Americans plan to travel this summer, many of whom are planning to visit Puerto Rico. In fact, research from online travel marketplace KOALA found that Puerto Rico is the most popular destination googled by American travelers in the last six months.
“After the tourism industry has been so heavily impacted by the pandemic, seeing our Island on the top of this list of desired places to visit in 2021 by U.S. travelers provides hope for a strong comeback for tourism in Puerto Rico,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, told The Weekly Journal. “It also demonstrates the opportunity that exists to amplify the Island’s diverse offerings for visitors. We will continue promoting our beautiful Island and its 78 municipalities to responsible travelers to lead the recovery of this important industry for Puerto Rico and the economy in general.”
It’s not just tourists that are interested in Puerto Rico. Analyzing pandemic relocation trends, financial experts have observed that more and more Americans are relocating to Puerto Rico for the long term. With its cost savings, tax incentives, and scenic natural environment—and all coming with the convenience of living in a U.S. territory — the Caribbean island has been drawing even more new residents than hot relocation destinations like Florida and Texas.
People first began relocating to Puerto Rico around four years ago, when Bitcoin had its first spike. “Now, you’re seeing Wall Street people relocate,” notes Angelique Brunner, CEO and founder of EB5 Capital. “[Puerto Rico] has the opportunity to be America’s Monaco if people continue to relocate there that have wealth.”
While Brunner sees Puerto Rico becoming America’s Monaco, real estate investors envision the unincorporated territory becoming the next Silicon Valley. A high quality of life, low cost of living, and a talented workforce combined with tax incentives have made Puerto Rico an attractive long-term destination for companies and employees.
Currently, there are 66 technology companies operating in the country, including Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett Packard, Honeywell, EVERTEC, Inc., and Rock Solid Technologies.
A comprehensive set of both corporate and individual tax incentives are one of the main drivers of relocation to Puerto Rico. Chief among these is Act 60, which includes a number of compelling tax rates for Puerto Rican residents and businesses that qualify—mostly residents from the mainland or their enterprises. Benefits include a 4% corporate tax rate, a 100% tax exemption from capital gains, interest, and royalties, a 75% exemption on property taxes, and a 50% exemption on municipal taxes.
Puerto Rican entities and residents are also exempt from federal income taxes.
In addition, competitive engineering salaries combined with a relatively low cost of living make Puerto Rico appealing to technology outsourcing. On average, Puerto Rican engineering salaries are around 25-50% lower than on the U.S. mainland.
Are you one of the many Americans enchanted by Puerto Rico’s promise of glittery beaches, emerald jungles, friendly locals, diverse culture, booming food & drink scene, and/or tax incentives? Whether you are planning on relocating or just visiting Puerto Rico, here are four things you need to know:
Before entering Puerto Rico, you should be fully vaccinated. You will need to submit a Travel Declaration Form through the Puerto Rico Health Department’s online portal, as well as proof of a negative PCR molecular COVID-19 test result taken no more than 72 hours before your trip. Without a negative test, you’ll need to quarantine for 14 days or the length of your stay—whichever is shorter—or until you can provide negative test results. San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport offers on-site testing for $110.
Categorized as a COVID-19 level four due to a high number of cases, Puerto Rico has kept many of its preventative measures in effect and likely will do so until more residents are vaccinated. This includes social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing in public areas. Being caught without a face mask can result in a $100 fine.
Restaurants are still operating at 30% capacity while bars remain closed. Casinos, museums, and hotel pools are operating at 50% capacity, while public beaches and nature reserves are operating under six-foot social distancing guidelines. The Puerto Rico Metropolitan Bus Authority and Tren Urbano subway system are operating, and taxis can be used until 10 p.m.
In addition, there’s an island-wide curfew enforced from midnight to 5 a.m. The curfew is expected to remain in place at least until May 9th.
If you are a citizen of the U.S., you won’t need a passport to enter the island or return to the mainland. Note that foreigners need to get a U.S. visa from their home country to enter Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico has two official languages: Spanish and English. In the major cities and heavily touristed areas, you’ll be able to get by with English. Still, if you’re planning on exploring off the beaten path, it’s a good idea to learn some key phrases. Road signs are also in Spanish (and in kilometers—which can be confusing because cars use MPH).
Interested in investing in Puerto Rico’s exciting tourism and relocation boom? Check out our latest Puerto Rico opportunities for more information.