Puerto Rico's tourism industry is in a
state of expansion, according to officials from the Puerto Rico
That expansion is
being fueled by massive hotel development and investment; increased
airlift and improvements to airports; an 8.2% jump in cruise ship
passengers this fiscal year; and increased marketing spending on
destination promotion and niche market development.
Visitor figures are
forecasted to top 5 million in 2007, representing a 5% increase in
Puerto Rico's gross domestic product and an economic benefit of
more than $3.4 billion to the island's economy, according to Mari
Laborde, deputy executive director of the Puerto Rican Tourism
"More than 80% of
our visitors are from the U.S., with the Northeast being the
strongest market," Laborde said. "Based on first-quarter 2008
bookings, we expect to see a visitor growth of 3% or more next year
across the board."
The following are
highlights in tourism development on Puerto Rico:
" With 21 airlines offering service
from 62 destinations, new flights and route expansions have
increased available seats by 2% this year.
Through 2011, $400
million in 13 capital improvement projects are pegged for Luis
Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan, including reconstruction of an
11,500-foot runway, the second-longest in the Caribbean (Curacao
has the longest), and renovations to Terminal A, which is served by
On Puerto Rico's
west coast, Aguadilla's Rafael Hernandez Airport recently opened a
$10.1 million international terminal. Passenger traffic spiked 40%
in fiscal year 2006, to 356,100 passengers.
The Puerto Rico
Ports Authority has invested $2.5 million in renovations at the
Ponce Mercedita Airport in the south, where passenger traffic rose
15% in fiscal year 2006.
" New air service from Orlando
includes JetBlue's twice-daily flights to San Juan, a daily flight
to Aguadilla and seasonal service to Ponce. Also, JetBlue has
seasonal, nonstop service from Boston to San Juan.
nonstop service from Fort Lauderdale to Aguadilla five times a week
and seasonal service to San Juan from Atlantic City, N.J., and
daily flights to Ponce and Aguadilla from Newark.
" Investments in the cruise sector
include a $6.5 million drainage project at two piers in San Juan in
order to accommodate the largest cruise ships.
The Port of the
Americas in Ponce and the Port of Mayaguez welcomed cruise ships
this year for the first time. Holland America and Royal Caribbean
will make four calls each in 2008 in Mayaguez.
" In the hotel sector, more than
5,359 rooms will be under construction by June 2008, totaling $1.3
billion in new investments and generating more than 3,700 new
Hotels that will
open in the next several years include a St. Regis at the Bahia
Beach Resort on the island's northeast coast in 2008, the 500-room
Sheraton Puerto Rico Convention Center Hotel in 2010, the 300-room
Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan in June 2009, the 264-room
Plaza International in San Juan in 2010, the 474-room Renaissance
La Concha Hotel & Casino in San Juan in November, the 160-room
Courtyard by Marriott in Aguadilla in November, the Fairmont CoCo
Beach Resort & Residences east of San Juan in 2009 and the
314-room InterContinental Cayo Largo Resort in Fajardo in
include the Wyndham Rio Mar, formerly a Westin property, which
invested $36 million in renovations and $350 million to build 871
timeshare units; the Gran Melia Puerto Rico, formerly the Paradisus
Puerto Rico, 30 minutes east of San Juan; the W Hotel, formerly the
Normandie in San Juan, which will open in 2008; and the W Resort on
Vieques, formerly the Martineau Bay Resort, which will open in
& Golden Door Spa in Fajardo will open a water park in
The Horned Dorset
Primavera, on the island's west coast, has opened its new
" New marketing initiatives include
the launch this month of a salsa music program for visitors, the
debut of the Puerto Rico Coffee Trail in central Puerto Rico and
the addition of EyeTour Puerto Rico, a series of free, interactive
guides to the island available on MP3 players.
" Niche marketing campaigns will
focus on 10 specific markets: history, girlfriend getaways,
vacations for men, gastronomy, gay/lesbian, destination weddings,
family travel, eco-adventure, spa/wellness and luxury
" Ana-Marie Viscasillas, president
and CEO of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, reported that the
113-acre Convention Center District "will be the new business
district of Puerto Rico. It will be 15 years in the making and will
include hotels, spas, restaurants, shopping and prime office
Taking shape adjacent to the convention district is the San Juan
Waterfront Project, a $1.5 billion initiative that "will transform
the waterfront area with hotels, parks, residences, commerce,
recreation and a mega-yacht marina, linked throughout the area by a
series of walkways and canals," according to
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].