Puerto Rico to host 13 conventions thru ’22, with $51M impact
The Puerto Rico Convention Center is set to host 13 meetings from November 2021 through October 2022 that are expected to draw about 23,000 attendees who will generate more than 58,000 room nights, representing a $51 million injection for the local economy.
Jorge Pérez, regional manager for ASM Global, which manages the venue, said 2022 is “shaping up as a promising year for Puerto Rico conventions,” following the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite early industry predictions that the recovery of the meetings, incentives, conventions, and events segment (MICE) could take years, Puerto Rico seems to be experiencing a quick rebound, he noted.
The list of citywide groups includes just one for this year. The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology will hold its annual meeting with some 1,250 attendees expected to arrive to the island for about 10 days in late November.
A dozen more such events will begin in January, which kicks off with the Society of Critical Care Medicine/SCCM 2022 Critical Care Congress — the largest of the year with an expected attendance of 6,000 people who will generate 14,865 hotel room night bookings, Convention Center information provided to News is my Business shows.
The list of planned meetings also includes the ICANN Worldwide Conference 2022, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association/2022 Annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show, and the LULAC, League of United Latin American Citizens’ National Convention & Exposition 2022.
With more than 600,000 square feet of total space, the Convention Center features an Exhibition Hall that can seat nearly 17,000 people and a ballroom that can accommodate more than 4,000, along with the waterfront, the venue is capable of hosting more than 25,000 simultaneous guests, executives said.
ASM Global and the Puerto Rico Convention District Authority have spent the better part of the last year — since the early days of the pandemic — conditioning the island’s main meeting and entertainment venues to prepare for an eventual reopening.
That included implementing the VenueShield environmental hygiene protocol, a best-in-class program providing the highest levels of cleanliness and safety, developed in partnership with medical professionals, industry experts and public health officials, Pérez said.
Other facility investments include improvements in broadband connectivity with a new wireless network, designed with robust and scalable 5G capable architecture, ensuring that the visitors attending conferences, meetings and other special events have reliable and seamless connectivity throughout the Convention Center.
“Network connectivity plays a crucial role within the Convention Center and has been a major focus of operation for us,” said Pérez. “Deploying a new state-of-the-art wireless network is a complex undertaking. We’re excited to provide visitors, exhibitors and conferences with an unmatched network experience while visiting [the venue].”
Other capital and facility and infrastructure improvements projects completed during lockdown months included carpet replacement, air purification systems and HVAC improvements, installing disinfecting safety stations and educational signage, to ensure consumers an unsurpassed experience and peace of mind as they return for events and activities at the venue.
“We want the world to know that Puerto Rico is open for business. We have taken advantage of mandatory closings to make the necessary investments and our facilities are ready to host inbound meetings and events. Visitors will find improved facilities, more entertainment options and most of all a safe environment to avoid COVID infections,” said Mariela Vallines, executive director of the Puerto Rico Convention District Authority.
In anticipation for a ramping-up of group business, ASM and the Authority unveiled a $500,000 multi-media, bilingual promotional campaign to deliver the message that “Puerto Rico is ready,” focusing on all the safety measures in place at the venues.
The money comes from an allocation under the CARES Act.
“We’re very excited to unveil this new campaign as part of an aggressive effort with our government and industry partners to continue driving the momentum we’re already seeing. The Puerto Rico Convention Center has to become one of the top venues worldwide in the meetings and conventions segment,” said Pérez.