Lawmakers spare Meet Puerto Rico, kill bill to end funds
Senate Bill 1160, which proposed eliminating $4.5 million a year in public funding to conventions and groups coordinator Meet Puerto Rico, was drawn from the Senate session late Tuesday night, the entity’s leadership said Wednesday.
The proposed measure sought to amend subsections Law 272-2003, known as the Room Tax Law, to transfer funding from Meet Puerto Rico, formerly known as the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, to the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority starting in Fiscal 2015.
In other words, Meet Puerto Rico would have lost the funding starting July 1. The implication of possibly having to cease operations sent the organization scrambling Wednesday, in an effort to stop the bill from passing. While it drummed up support from its members, Meet Puerto Rico also received the backing of other tourism members, including those affiliated with the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association.
“We shared positive results and known facts about Meet Puerto Rico and that was our best defense. Moreover, the overpowering demonstration of all letters and calls to the Senators were proof that this industry is united and strengthened. Your support was crucial to stop Bill 1160,” said Meet Puerto Rico President Milton Segarra in a letter sent to its membership Wednesday.
“Still, there is a long way to go. During the upcoming months we will hold meetings with the government representatives to provide information about Meet Puerto Rico, an organization with proven record and results,” he said.
“We are confident that through open and honest dialogue with the government, we will achieve the rapport to continue positioning Puerto Rico as a top-notch destination for groups and conventions business,” Segarra added.
Meet Puerto Rico is responsible for generating more than $110 million a year for the local economy in direct spending by groups and conventions, the group disclosed.