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P.R. tourism leaders call for focus on progress nearly a year after María

Given the proximity of the first anniversary of Hurricane María passing through Puerto Rico and the attention that images of devastation will have again, the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Discover Puerto Rico, announced an initiative that invites visitors, as well as local and international media, to focus on the island’s recovery.

Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean, six months after Hurricane María, more than 50 percent of travelers said the negative news coverage influenced their vision of Puerto Rico as a tourist destination.

Dean also explained that local members of the tourism industry and the community created a space on social networks under the hashtag #CoverTheProgress, urging all audiences to share their experiences on Puerto Rico’s recovery.

“We want to change the negative view about the condition of the Island as the first anniversary of Hurricane María approaches,” Dean said.

“Puerto Rico is open to tourism since last December and the local tourism industry has worked hard over the past year to achieve a solid recovery. We have a lot to celebrate and we do not want the first anniversary to throw all this work behind us,” Dean added.

“We are clear that there are still some remote areas of the island in the process of recovery, but we are asking that we celebrate the achievements of industry and communities to enhance the vitality of our Island as a tourist destination,” the executive addded.

“It is essential that milestones be shared from the local industry and the communities that have worked hard to achieve them. We are taking advantage of this moment to invite all the public to help us highlight the recovery of tourism because it contributes vitally to the recovery of our economy,” Dean said.

To document the progress of the recovery, Discover Puerto Rico made a video of the Punta Santiago community in Humacao; one of the most devastated sectors of the Island.

This community became known worldwide for a viral image, where they asked for help with the letters “S.O.S.” When documenting the recovery, the community, together with the local industry of the area, recreated the aerial image of how they are today, in the hope that it will also become viral. This time the message reads “Welcome #CoverTheProgress.”

Janet González, resident of the Humacao community, said “being completely isolated on the island, we couldn’t imagine how far our image had come, and we are grateful for that scope. But now, we are ready to turn the page. They asked us what message we wanted to share now, and we hope that the Welcome message will also go viral.”

Dean said that there will be a second phase of this project, to be announced at a later date, that will once again highlight the resilience and recovery of this Puerto Rican community.

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