First-quarter 2008 hotel bookings in Puerto Rico's west coast, known as the Porta del Sol region, spiked 60% above last year's numbers, according to the Puerto Rico Tourism Co.

Traffic at Borinquen Airport in Aquadilla also increased in the same period, due to the region's fame as a surfing destination, the PRTC said.

Record waves from January through March brought surfers from around the world to Rincon and its nearby beaches.

Helping drive visitor numbers in the Porta del Sol region is hotel and infrastructure development, according to Terestella Gonzalez-Denton, executive director of PRTC.

Projects include more than $430.4 million earmarked for new road construction as well as a multi-million-dollar investment in a sports complex, which will host the Central American and Caribbean Games (similar to the Olympic Games) in 2010.

The PRTC also said it plans to invest an additional $1.5 million in marketing and promotional efforts for Porta del Sol.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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