Puerto Rico tourism execs lobby for sector’s gradual reopening
A group of Puerto Rico tourism industry representatives issued a statement expressing their interest in a gradual reopening of the sector that generates some 80,000 jobs and generates some $5.5 billion in annual revenue.
“As Puerto Rican executives, we recognize the importance of tourism in the island’s economy, and we want to return to work in a staggered opening of tourism, taking all local and international health measures into account,” said the group of seven industry representatives.
José Algarín, president of MGI Caribe; Jorge Flores, CEO of Toro Verde; Anaymir “Tuti” Muñoz, vice president of MB Holdings & MB Sports; Federico Sánchez, CEO of Interlink; José M. “Peco” Suárez, president of International Hospitality Enterprises; Federico Stubbe, Jr., president of PRISA Group; and Ismael Vega, general manager of Casino Metro authored the statement.
“This is the only way we’ll protect more than 80,000 jobs and accelerate the multimillion-dollar economic activity that drives our island forward, while we continue our efforts to position Puerto Rico as the leader and best destination in the Caribbean and the southeastern United States,” the group said.
Puerto Rico’s tourism sector contributes more than $640 million to the government’s coffers in tax revenue.
Citing information released by Longwoods International & Miles Partnership, 72% of North Americans are expected to begin leisure travel in late summer, provided it is to a safe destination where their health is protected.
“This is a great opportunity. We have to be the first destination prepared and ready to receive these visitors,” the executives said.
At present, some 2,000 passengers arrive on the island every day, which is a fraction of normal visitor traffic.
“In coming months, family and friends trips from the U.S. mainland to spend time with their loved ones on the island will begin to increase. We have to be open with our amenities, to receive them in our nearly 160 hotels and 7,400 small and medium-sized companies that serve the visitor’s economy,” the group added.
“We’re ready to save the second half of 2020 and its high season. We know that, if we support efforts now to attract tourists from abroad, the recovery process will begin in July, saving jobs, capital investments and propelling Puerto Rico toward progress,” the group added.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the island’s hotels and restaurants are operating, but in a very limited way. Amenities such as casinos, beaches, swimming pools, gyms, spas and golf courses have been closed since the government mandated a business lockdown on Mar. 16, 2020.
As a result 85% of the sector’s employees were laid off and $474 million were registered direct economic losses, they said, citing Tourism Economics data.