NEW YORK -- Puerto
Rico's tourism industry is in a state of expansion, according to
tourism officials who were in New York this week. That expansion,
officials said, 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 emphasis and dollar expenditure on both destination
promotion and niche market development.
Visitor figures are
forecast to top 5 million in 2007, which represents a 7% increase
in the 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 Rico Tourism Co.
"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 in 2008
across the board."
Highlights of the
tourism developments include:
" With 21 airlines offering service
to/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 International Airport in San Juan, including
reconstruction of an 11,500-foot runway -- the second longest in
the Caribbean -- and renovations to Terminal A, served by American
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 over 2005 to 356,100 passengers.
The Puerto Rico
Ports Authority has invested $2.5 million to renovate the Ponce
Mercedita Airport in the south, where passenger traffic rose 15% in
fiscal year 2006 over 2005.
" New air service from Orlando
includes JetBlue's twice-daily flights to San Juan, a daily flight
to Aquadilla, and seasonal service to Ponce. In addition, 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.,
daily flights to Ponce and Aquadilla from Newark.
" Investments in the cruise sector
include a $6.5 million drainage project at two piers in San Juan in
order to accommodate mega ships.
Both the Port of
the Americas in Ponce and the Port of Mayaguez welcomed cruise
ships this year for the first time, and both Holland America and
Royal Caribbean will make four calls each in 2008 in
" In the hotel sector, more than
5,359 new rooms will be under construction by June of 2008,
totaling $1.3 billion in new investments and generating more than
3,700 new jobs.
investing in new properties in Puerto Rico include St. Regis, W
Hotels, Sheraton, InterContinental, Marriott and
" New marketing initiatives include
the launch this month of a Salsa 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,
including history, girlfriend getaways, gastronomy, gay/lesbian and
eco-adventure, among others.
For details, visit
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].