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Tourism Co. partners with Beautiful Destinations to stage P.R.’s comeback

Looking to erase the perception that Puerto Rico has not yet recovered from Hurricane María, the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. has partnered with Beautiful Destinations to reach some 20 million of the platforms users with a portfolio of “comeback” photos and videos.

Tourism invested $110,000 in the effort, which would have otherwise cost about $1 million, agency Executive Director Carla Campos confirmed.

Tourism partnered with Beautiful Destinations — the creative agency behind the largest travel community on social media, with users from 180 countries — to showcase Puerto Rico as a unique and world-class travel destination through a set of compelling photos and videos that capture the island’s rich diversity of landscapes and attractions.

This content, which Discover Puerto Rico — the island’s newly-established destination marketing organization tasked with engaging with new audiences of business and leisure travelers abroad — will also use as part of its marketing efforts, will be shared across Beautiful Destinations platforms.

The photos and videos showcase the destination’s mountain ranges, coastlines, historic centers, and attractions that make Puerto Rico such a perfect choice for everything from a digital detox to an Instagrammable moment. The local government agencies will be able to use the portfolio of visuals for five years, Campos said.

“The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is thrilled about our collaboration with Beautiful Destinations. The new-portfolio of assets shows, without a shadow of a doubt, that Puerto Rico is an amazing place ready to welcome everyone,” Campos said.

“The use of images to dispel any misgivings or uncertainty a potential guest may have about booking a reservation in Puerto Rico is key to our Destination Recover Strategy,” she added.

“Indicators are showing that we need to continue tackling the perception issue. We’re coming up on the one-year mark since the hurricanes, and we anticípate there will be a lot of negative press, so we have to offset that with this type of effort,” Campos acknowledged.

The people who engage with Beautiful Destination’s content across any of its platforms — from Instagram and YouTube to Snapchat and Facebook — collectively represent the largest travelers community on digital platforms.

“Beautiful Destinations is immensely proud to have worked so closely with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company to curate the content and share the stories that reflect Puerto Rico’s thriving tourism economy,” said Jeremy Jauncey, CEO of Beautiful Destinations, who Campos said has been a staunch supporter of Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts.

“At Beautiful Destinations, we are in the unique position to work with the most transformative countries, territories, regions, and cities the world over, and we know first-hand that this is a destination worth returning to again and again. We can’t wait to share our take on Puerto Rico with the world,” Jauncey said.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company coordinated the filming of various locations at the beginning of 2018, although the plan had been in the works since before Hurricane María hit in September 2017, Campos said.

She said the comeback effort depends on ongoing collaboration and support with Discover Puerto Rico, which will integrate the 45 photos and videos into its marketing campaigns.

“Every country has its pivotal moments,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico.  “This is our moment. Puerto Ricans — from innovative restauranteurs to detail-oriented hoteliers, creative entrepreneurs to impeccable meeting planners —  are coming together to welcome the world to our no-filter-needed island.”

The new portfolio will be available on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook to and shared across the Tourism Co., Discover Puerto Rico and Beautiful Destinations platforms.

Short-term rentals thrive, more hotels opening
During a roundtable discussion with members of the local media, Campos said over the past year, the agency has collected $3.2 million in hotel room tax revenue from short-term rentals. That amount breaks down into $2.7 million from Airbnb rentals, $472,000 from Homeaway and $23,000 from local firm Join-a-Join.

“The reason we’ve been able to collect the $3.2 million from short-term rentals is because we’re working directly with platforms who are responsible for remitting the revenue,” she said, noting Airbnb alone has 7,500 listings.

At present, ther are 11,500 hotel rooms available, of which 3,500 are still in renovation. There are 28 hotel properties ranging in sizes under construction — including District Live! in Miramar and the Four Seasons Cayo Largo Resort in Fajardo — that will add another 1,500 rooms to Puerto Rico’s inventory, Campos said.

In coming months, some of the major hotels that have remained shut since Hurricane María hit will also be reopening, she said. The St. Regis Bahía Beach and the Ritz Reserve in Dorado will open in October, the Melia Coco Beach will open in November, the Caribe Hilton and Condado Plaza will reopen in December, while the El Conquistador Resort in Fajardo could reopen during the second quarter of 2019, she said.

There is still no word on the status of the W Hotel in Vieques, which is apparently waiting for insurance payments to kick in.

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