Puerto Rico Tourism Co. officials announced a number of milestones reached as part of the recovery process after Hurricane María, while hosting the largest regional tourism event, when it also provided a positive outlook for 2018.
During the 15th edition of the Caribbean Travel Marketplace being held in San Juan, agency officials reaffirmed Puerto Rico’s readiness to host visitors from all over the world.
“We have made great strides because we’ve implemented a comprehensive strategy which has in turn secured a promising comeback for the Island,” said Carla Campos, acting executive director of the Tourism Co.
“Puerto Rico has reached great milestones that couldn’t have been achieved without Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s leadership and the immense support we’ve received from travel industry private sector partners since day one,” she said.
“With more than $1.9 billion of hospitality development in the pipeline and an existing lodging inventory undergoing exciting renovations, Puerto Rico’s revamping is underway,” she said.
The list of milestones for leisure and business travelers post-María include:
- Cruises: Puerto Rico resumed operations two and a half weeks after Hurricane María, and by end of June, 2018, the island will have received 1.04 million passengers. This winter season, 14 vessels — four more than the previous season — are homeporting in San Juan, including Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas, the Windstar Pride, Silverseas Silver Wind and Viking Sea. The 2018/2019 cruising season is set to witness 1.7 million passengers, which is expected to generate roughly $250 million in revenue for the economy.
- Air access: The airline industry is restoring and growing. Two weeks after Hurricane María, the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport had 20 daily flights, and nowthere are on average 110 daily flights. Capacity is on the rise with a current monthly seat volume of 391,000. By July 2018, seat capacity will increase by 81,000 more. By early summer 2018, it is expected that air access will be on par with levels this time last year, and “Puerto Rico is growing at a faster pace than comparable destinations that have gone through similar situations,” government officials said. Growth is driven by newly established routes and existing frequency, in addition to larger aircrafts that will result in higher seat capacity.
- Hotels: Currently, there are more than 122 hotels operating, which equals to 12,458 available rooms. Some 2,670 more rooms will be added to that inventory after undergoing renovations. For example, at the Wyndham Grand Río Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve and El San Juan Hotel. Looking ahead, the Tourism Co. estimates 25 percent more rooms in the pipeline for development, which equals to 3,800 new rooms. Some of the hotels in the pipeline are the JW Marriott, Aloft San Juan Convention Center, Aloft Ponce, Serafina Hotel, Four Seasons Cayo Largo, among others. Approximately $1.9 billion will be injected into new developments and renovations, which contributes to adding roughly 3,831 new jobs, they said.
- Destination attractions: A month after Hurricane María, the Tourism Co. announced that 22 attractions were open, however, today there are more than 120. Additionally, 13 golf courses and 15 casinos are also open for recreation. Puerto Rico has 4,000 operating restaurants.
“We’re seeing continued commitment from partners who are choosing to keep their big-ticket events in Puerto Rico, like the DIVAS Half Marathon and 5K, PGA, Ironman, and MLB Series, all events happening in Q1 and Q2 of this year alone,” Campos said.