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"Despacito" Could Be Driving More Interest in Puerto Rico—But Not Visits

Chinese officials may want to rethink their recent decision to bar Justin Bieber from performing in their country

Turns out the pop heartthrob could be good for tourism. Just ask Puerto Rico.

A Spanglish remix of the hit "Despacito" featuring Bieber and the song's original recording artists, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, debuted on April 17 and quickly rose to the top of the charts and streaming ubiquity, filling listeners' ears with lines praising Puerto Rico. 

Several travel sites have reported an increase in interest in the island after the remix came out. says Puerto Rico searches jumped 45% compared to the previous year, while TripAdvisor, Expedia, Kayak, and Hopper noticed lower but still double-digit spikes in hotel and airfare searches from April to June.

But wait: Wasn't Puerto Rico, along with many other parts of the Caribbean, dealing with a highly publicized Zika outbreak last year? And couldn't the easing of that crisis be a more realistic explanation for the springtime resumption of interest in the island?

Number crunchers at Kayak, for one, aren't so sure. They say that although there has been a 3.6% rise in Puerto Rico searches overall this year, the figures in the spring—post-"Despacito"—were up 25%. Further, interest in Puerto Rico had been on the decline in 2015, even before Zika became an issue. Which could mean that getting the disease under control has had less to do with the island's resurgence in popularity than you might expect.

Even so, it's important to keep in mind that we're talking about hotel and airfare searches, not bookings. As the Washington Post points out, an analysis of the first six months of the year shows that interest has so far not translated into visits.