More than 1,000 delegates from the tourism sector — including executives from the 14 Caribbean cruise lines, travel agents, tour operators and suppliers industry — are currently in Puerto Rico to attend the 18th Annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Convention and Tradeshow, being held at the Convention Center in Miramar.
This is the first time that executives meet in Puerto Rico to discuss industry issues, explore new business partnerships, and develop new plans for the benefit of the industry, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company said Wednesday.
The convention is expected to pump about $3.4 million into the economy, as participants of the weeklong event take part in conferences, one-on-one meetings, excursions and exhibits.
The conference is also an opportunity for the government to showcase the advantages Puerto Rico has available, including one of the most developed port infrastructures of the Caribbean as well as its attractive incentives program.
The island is offering incentives to cruise companies that include benefits for frequent visits, passenger quantity, time-at-port, acquiring local supplies and marketing support for cruise lines that mention Puerto Rico as their homeport.
“These government efforts alongside Puerto Rico tourism offerings will increase the quantity and frequency of cruise ships visiting Puerto Rico” said Puerto Rico Tourism Company Executive Director Mario González-Lafuente. “Puerto Rico is a first-class travel destination. We are positive that the high-ranking executives of all cruise lines will recognize what differentiates us from other destinations in and outside the Caribbean.”
“Our diverse shore offerings and varied hotels provide an added value for cruise passengers,” he said.
Ahead of this week’s conference, in August, Florida Caribbean Cruise Association President, Michelle Paige commended the current administration’s “follow-through” attitude toward the cruise ship industry, which has brought the island back into the cruise industry’s radar.
“The FCCA recognizes the initiatives the government of Puerto Rico has put into place so the island will continue to be a first-class destination for cruise ship vacationers,” she said. “The cruise industry has been working alongside the government to implement the port operational logistic strategy, identify new tour options and improve infrastructure.”
The cruise ship industry brings in more than 1.2 million visitors to the San Juan, Ponce and Mayagüez ports, contributes more than $240 million to the local economy and generates some 7,000 local jobs, Economic Development and Commere Secretary José R. Pérez-Riera said Wednesday.
As part of the event, earlier in the day, Gov. Luis Fortuño lead a tour of the $525 million Bahía Urbana Project, through which the government seeks to revitalize the San Juan port area by establishing “vibrant neighborhoods, stores, restaurants, hotels, entertainment for tourists as well as open and safe areas.”
However, the project will not be fully developed for at least 20 to 30 years, as it will be completed in phases, the first being improving the San Juan port area, where cruise ships dock.
The government is working on in tandem with the cruise ship industry to develop a number of projects to further boost the sector’s impact on the local economy, Pérez-Riera said.
“This is one of the reasons why we strive to maintain a close relationship with our cruise industry partners. Hosting this conference in Puerto Rico is an important step in this direction,” Pérez-Riera said.