SAN JUAN -- The Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) started an incentive program designed to boost cruise arrivals and assuage cruise lines upset by an increase in port fees implemented July 1.

The incentive program is retroactive to that date and will run through fiscal year 2008.

Irene Rocafort, the PRTCs director of marketing and global operations, said the program has the stamp of approval of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and member cruise lines.

This took a long time to negotiate and several months of research. We studied a variety of possible programs and plans, said Rocafort.

The Puerto Rico Ports Authority increased port fees from $10.30 to $13.25 per passenger last April, with a July 1 effective date. The $10.30 fee had been in effect since 1996.

Fearing ships would avoid Puerto Rico as a port of call as a result of the fee hike, the PRTC worked with the FCCA and cruise lines to develop incentives to keep the port competitive.

For the current fiscal year, which runs through June 30, cruise lines calling in San Juan are offered three different incentives:

  • A destination incentive of $2.95 is paid to the cruise line for each passenger who visits San Juan, which effectively wipes out the fee increase for the cruise line.
  • Each ship is paid a $2 incentive for each visiting passenger between 10,000 and 139,999, and $4.50 for each passenger over the 140,000 mark.
  • Each ship will be offered a 10% discount toward food and beverages purchased locally. 
  • Puerto Rico welcomed more than 1.2 million passengers last year, up 2.6% over 2002. Passengers this year will total about 1.4 million, Rocafort said.

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

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