Several business leaders from the southwest tourist regions expressed their gratitude for the general support they are receiving, saying they feel “optimistic about the level of socioeconomic recovery that they may reach in the coming months.”
In a release, a group of businesses represented by several trade groups thanked mayors, lawmakers, artists, the Chambers of Commerce, the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., Discover Puerto Rico, the media, and the Puerto Rican people for their support.
The long weekend improved at the last minute, with the arrival of hundreds of local and foreign tourists to the southwest.
“We saw the pace of reservations increase at the last minute, and by Saturday, many hotels in Guánica, La Parguera, Combate, and Boquerón had reached an average of 60% in occupancy for the weekend,” said Tomás Ramírez, vice president of the Small Inn Owners Association.
“Although by this date we’re usually all at 100%, this occupancy is a good sign,” he said.
The surge in visitors also helped area employees, who saw their work hours cut since the Jan. 7th earthquakes and its aftershocks, which drove tourists away, Ramírez said.
“The hotels and restaurants in the region were operating at capacity [this weekend]. La Parguera and El Combate beach were very busy, and visitors enjoyed all of the water sports,” he said.
“Several restaurants had live music and reported a notable increase in their guests. The Boquemar, Guánica 1929, and Turtle Bay Inn hotels said they had 100% occupancy for Saturday night, which contrasts with the occupations of 10% to 25% that we had seen in the past weekends,” said Ramírez, co-owner of the Parador Combate Beach Resort in Cabo Rojo.
Sylmarie González-Orengo, president of the Retailers Association of La Parguera, a popular tourist spot in the town of Lajas, said, “There’s no better way to express what we feel for the support of the people of Puerto Rico during this weekend than grateful.”
“Supporting each other is how we can lift our island. The atmosphere in La Parguera is the same as always. A vibrant Parguera that awaits everyone from now on, knowing that we will give everything to make our visitors’ experience a memorable one,” she said.
Visitor traffic was also evident in other municipalities in the mountains.
According to Jesús Ramos, president of the Small Inn Owners Association, the tide has turned toward a recovery, which will nonetheless take several months.
The Parador Villas de Sotomayor in Adjuntas reported a surge in its restaurants and an average occupancy of 70% over the weekend. Ramos believes the public will turn up for the traditional “Festival del Frío” event that starts Feb. 28.
The executives said the President’s Day weekend’s activity is a “good indicator” for the upcoming months. For that reason, they are working with the island’s legislature to lock down a relief package and deferment of regulatory payments and mortgage and commercial loans.
They also asked the Tourism Co. and Discover Puerto Rico for a significant increase in the investment they make in the promotion of these regions, to ensure the viability of their companies and the preservation of the hundreds of jobs they generate in the area, the trade group representatives said.
“We’re definitely ready to receive Puerto Rican families who enjoy the southwest. We invite all news media and influencers to continue supporting us, highlighting our attractions and the safety of our facilities when visiting this region,” Ramírez said.