Fri | Jan 18, 2019

C'BEAN MARKETPLACE: Puerto Rico's tourism rebounds four months after hurricanes

Published:Wednesday | January 31, 2018 | 5:35 PM
Campos ... Growth in air access to the country has quadrupled.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico:
Four months after the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, the authorities there are reporting an impressive recovery.

Growth in air access to the country has quadrupled, and stakeholders are projecting a record-breaking cruise passenger season of some 1.7 million visitors for 2018/2019, expected to generate roughly US$250 million.

"Air access growth is coming back at full capacity faster than comparable destinations and our new revamped $1.9 billion lodging developments in the pipeline is estimated to generate 3,500 new jobs,” acting executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Carla Campos said earlier today.

She was addressing members of the media attending the largest and most important regional tourism event, Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2018, now on at the Puerto Rico Convention Centre.

Announcing that Puerto Rico had made great strides by implementing a comprehensive strategy which has secured a promising comeback for the island, Campos said the country resumed cruise operations just two and a half weeks after Hurricane Maria, but by the end of June 2018, the country will have received 1.04 million passengers.

This winter season, 14 vessels – four more than the previous season – are home-porting in San Juan: Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas, the Windstar Pride, Silverseas Silver Wind and Viking Sea.

According to the tourism company executive, the airline industry is also rapidly restoring and growing.

"Two weeks after Hurricane Maria, the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport had 20 daily flights, but today, there are on average 110 daily flights. Capacity is on the rise with a current monthly seat volume of 391,000,” she said.

By July 2018, seat capacity will increase by 81,000, she revealed.

In fact by early summer 2018, air access will be on par with levels this time last year, resulting in the island growing at a faster pace than comparable destinations that have gone through similar situations.

Campos noted that the big brands continued to show their commitment by hosting premiere events on the island - a statement confirmed by executive director of the Convention Authority, Omar Marrero, who noted that some 230 events were already booked for the first six months in 2018.

"This shows our resilience," Marrero said.

Hotels are bouncing back too.

Currently, there are more than 122 hotels operating providing 12,458 rooms and Campos said 2,670 more rooms will be added after undergoing renovations.