Hoteliers tell Senate of ‘Porta del Sol’ shortcomings
The head of the Puerto Rico Small Inn Owners Association, Tomás Ramírez, told lawmakers Wednesday that the so-called Porta del Sol strategic plan for the island’s western flank has had “a disjointed and slow implementation.”
Although Ramírez acknowledged the work being done by current Puerto Rico Tourism Company Executive Director, Ingrid Ramírez, and her team, he said the board that governs the Porta del Sol tourism concept “did not meet for seven years and it wasn’t until 2013 that it reconvened.”
His testimony was presented during a hearing held by the Senate’s Tourism, Culture, Recreation and Sports and Globalization committee, which moved to Cabo Rojo to look into the operation of the Porta del Sol concept, which aims to promote tourism in the west.
Ramírez suggested that the Tourism Company implement specific promotional strategies for the western region, “especially directed to the millions of Puerto Ricans who live in the U.S. [mainland], which represent a great potential for visits.”
The executive, who runs the Boquerón Beach Club, also suggested creating an all-inclusive concept featuring a slew of attractions available in the region.
“”It’s amazing the amount of attractions we have in these municipalities that make up Porta del Sol. There are more than 48 beaches, a zoo, multiple museums, 17 urban centers, four woods, two airports, two golf courses, five historic lighthouses, multiple islets and cays ideal for diving, kayaking and surfing, specialized medical centers, great restaurants and places of great historical value, such as the Cabo Rojo Salt mines, which have been in continuous operations for 503 years,” Ramírez said.
Meanwhile, Mayagüez Mayor José Guillermo Rodríguez had some hard words for the Tourism Company, which he blasted for its “lack of action and diligence in complying with the law that created Porta del Sol.”
The Mayor asked the Legislature to submit new legislation “to completely restructure the Tourism Company and establish regional tourism structures linked to a central public policy message and purpose, but not as it currently is, under a bureaucratic and unilateral control, which responds to interests outside the development of tourism in the west. “
During the hearing, members of the Mayagüez 2010 foundation — a nonprofit created after the Central American Games held in that city — offered their support to the tourism initiative, but from a sports standpoint.
“We support the trend followed by municipal governments to invest in cultural and sports activities, to promote tourism and develop them as economic activities,” said executive Felipe Pérez-Grajales, chairman of the nonprofit entity.