St. Thomas -- In the coming months, Puerto Rico plans the
development of new products, a stronger eco-tourism push and the
opening of its long-awaited convention center, according to
Terestella Gonzalez Denton, executive director of the Puerto Rico
Tourism Co (PRTC).
Puerto Ricos tourism plans at the 28th annual Caribbean Tourism
Conference (CTC-28) being held in St. Thomas through Oct.
experienced a 4% overall increase in visitor arrivals through
September over the same period a year ago, Denton reported, and is
well on its way to setting records this year.
In fact, Puerto
Ricos travel and tourism demand is expected to grow at a solid
annual pace of 3.8% over the next decade, according to statistics
released by the World Travel & Tourism Council.
bolster those visits, a new $21 million ad and promotional campaign
will be unveiled Nov. 3 with a theme that encourages travelers to
Explore Beyond the Shore.
The biggest happening in
Puerto Rico this year in tourism terms will take place Nov. 18 when
the state-of-the-art Puerto Rico Convention Center (PRCC)
officially opens as the centerpiece of a $415 million waterfront
development project that will have 580,000 square feet of exhibit
space and will be able to host more than 10,000
already has started on the Sheraton hotel, which will be the anchor
property for the center.
The first major
event to be held at the PRCC will be the Caribbean Marketplace
(formerly the CHA Marketplace) Jan. 15 to 17. Next spring the
center also will be the venue for the Caribbean Tourism
Organizations 8th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable
Tourism Development, April 25 to 29.
" Puerto Rico
currently is served by 23 airlines with 15,000 flights a year.
Despite this existing level of service, improved air access is a
key strategic issue to grow our tourism industry, Denton
To achieve this,
the PRTC launched a comprehensive new Air Access Program in June to
increase the number of nonstop flights, routes and seat capacity
to/from Puerto Rico in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Canada.
The plan updated the previous plan drawn up in 2003.
" A new tourist
information center will be in operation in November at Luis Munoz
Marin airport in San Juan to provide tourists with resources and
The Puerto Rico
Airports Authority is investing $2.5 million to renovate Ponces
Mercedita Airport, set for completion in February.
" In the
accommodations sector, Denton reported that by the end of 2005,
Puerto Rico will have close to 14,000 rooms. For instance, the
474-room Renaissance La Concha Hotel & Casino will open by the
end of this year with a casino, three restaurants, a pool and
" A new paradores
marketing campaign targets both the local and U.S. markets. Through
April, selected paradores are offering a two-night stay priced from
$299 with accommodations, breakfast and dinner, and a 25% discount
from Hertz. A list of participating properties is available at www.gotoparadores.com.
" In the arena of
ecotourism, Puerto Rico has four designated Blue Flag-certified
beaches: El Escambron and Carolina in the San Juan area, and
Montserrate in Luquillo and Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island. Seven
more beaches are under review and could receive certification by
the end of the year.
" To enable
agents to view its online specialist program, PRTC put its Puerto
Rico Travel Expert program on line at www.gotopuertorico.com/travelagent.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].