Small inn owners call on tourism sector to enforce rules of conduct
The members of the Puerto Rico Small Inn and Tourism Owners Association called on the island’s more than 6,000 tourism-related businesses “to comply with their civic responsibility and promote respect for new coexistence norms related to COVID-19, in and around their businesses.”
They insisted that “irresponsible behavior is not exclusive to foreign visitors, and that it is imperative to collaborate with government agencies to ensure the recovery of the travel and entertainment sector.”
Their concerns are associated with an increase in cases in recent months of unruly behavior mainly in high-tourism areas and the publication of photos and videos on social media of crowds of people not wearing masks.
“We’re definitely promoting the full reopening of the tourism sector and the elimination of restrictions in the 17 industries that make up our offer,” said Jesús Ramos, president of the Association and owner of the Parador Villas Sotomayor in Adjuntas.
“About 85% of the companies in our sector are small and medium-sized, and were the most affected by the pandemic, with losses that have been estimated at up to $1 billion in 2020,” he said.
“An increase in restrictions would be mortal for many [of the businesses], so, it’s up to business owners n to ensure strict compliance with health and hygiene standards in their businesses and their surroundings,” he said.
The paradores, as the small inns endorsed by the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. are known, are receiving thousands of local and foreign tourists weekly, and the vast majority are “very responsible,” he said, adding that despite that, many of the properties are upholding strict supervision standards and urge others in the industry to follow suit.
Since the beginning of the pandemic a year ago, small inn owners have been offering suggestions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and have presented proposals to improve health, hygiene, and safety standards, seeking to promote the return to normality of all tourism-related businesses.
“We actively participate in the Economic Task Force and we’re very grateful to the doctors and all health professionals, who have done and continue to do a masterful job to protect the Puerto Rican people,” said Tomás Ramírez, past president of the association, and current vice president of the Board of Directors of Discover Puerto Rico.
“We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’re still halfway there and we believe that Puerto Rico needs a massive and sustained education campaign, mainly aimed at young people between the ages of 20 to 40. We also need to strengthen the oversight program and [conduct] periodic inspections in the areas with the highest incidence of crowds and non-compliance,” he said.
The Association called on tourism-related businesses to promote and enforce the new COVID-19-related coexistence rules, particularly ahead of Holy Week, which traditionally draws a higher visitor turnout.
“We want everyone to enjoy responsible, while we protect ourselves and strengthen our economic sector,” said Ramírez.
“Easter is approaching, and we cannot allow the spread of the irresponsible behavior that we see in some entertainment areas on our island. We can easily cause a setback in the reopening plan that we’re carrying out and affect all our companies permanently,” he added.