SAN JUAN -- Air
access expansion, cruise line incentives and hotel development are
the priorities of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) in coming
months, according to executive director Terestella Gonzalez Denton.
The moves should
bolster the already impressive growth of Puerto Rican tourism: The
destination registered a 4% overall increase in 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 World Travel
and Tourism Council research.
To further shore
up those visits, the PRTC unveiled a $21 million advertising and
promotional campaign on Nov. 3 with a theme that encourages
travelers to Explore Beyond the Shore.
We want visitors
to know all of Puerto Rico in terms of nature, heritage, culture,
cuisine and attractions, Denton said. Our focus will be to improve
the infrastructure so our visitors have easy access to whats out
The theme evolved
based on input from the PRTCs travel agent and hotelier advisory
is one of our attractions, and we have to focus on the uniqueness
of our culture and our people, Denton said.
tourism happening in the island this year will take place Nov. 18
when the Puerto Rico Convention Center (PRCC) officially opens as
the centerpiece of a $415 million waterfront development project in
The facility will
have 580,000 square feet of exhibition space able to accommodate
more than 10,000 attendees.
benefits will spread ripples throughout the entire Caribbean,
The first major
event to be held at the convention center will be the Caribbean
Marketplace (formerly known as the CHA Marketplace), to run Jan. 15
Next spring, the
PRCC also will host the Caribbean Tourism Organizations 8th Annual
Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, April 25
started on the Sheraton hotel, which will be the anchor property
for the center.
On the issue of
air access, the PRTC in June launched a comprehensive Air Access
Program -- an update of an earlier plan from 2003 -- to increase
the number of nonstop flights and routes and seat capacity between
Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland, Europe, Latin America and
currently is served by 23 airlines offering 15,000 flights a
existing level of service, improved air access is a key strategic
issue to grow our tourism industry, Denton said.
aviation-related developments, a new tourist information center
opens this month at Luis Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan to provide
tourists with resources and trip-planning guides.
As for regional
airports, the Puerto Rico Airports Authority is investing $2.5
million to renovate Ponces Mercedita Airport, with completion by
cruise-line front, new incentives already are in the works, Denton
Were adding more
specialized land tour offerings for cruise passengers, going beyond
El Yunque, Old San Juan and the traditional tours. We need to give
our visitors more.
waterfront entertainment has been added, and a port rebuilding
program is ongoing, she said.
accommodations sector, Puerto Rico will have close to 14,000 hotel
rooms by the end of this year.
developments include a new paradores marketing campaign to promote
the islands smaller, family-run inns in both local and mainland
coming April, select paradores are offering two-night stays priced
from $299, based on double occupancy, with accommodations,
breakfast and dinner, and a 25% auto-rental discount from
A list of
participating properties is available online at www.gotoparadores.com.
news, seven more beaches in Puerto Rico are under review for Blue
Flag environmental certification, which they could win by the
already has four such beaches: El Escambron and Carolina in the San
Juan area, Montserrate in Luquillo and Flamenco Beach on Culebra
And to enable
agents to better participate in its destination specialist program,
the 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].