Agents can win cash for booking Puerto Rico

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NEW YORK -- Travel agents figure front and center in the latest piece of an $11 million promotion effort launched by Puerto Rico tourism officials to spur arrivals from the mainland U.S.

As part of a six-week "incentive promotion," agents who book Puerto Rico Fun vacation packages between Jan. 13 to Feb. 23 -- for travel in the Feb. 2 to April 15 high season -- are automatically entered into drawings for $100 daily and $1,000 weekly prizes, and a $10,000 grand prize.

Following Sept. 11, Puerto Rico, like many destinations, took a hit, said Milton Segarra, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., at the ASTA World Travel Congress here Nov. 6.

"But thanks to these initiatives we're taking, we will be able to put the industry back on track," he said, adding that Puerto Rico's hotels have regained from 45% to 60% of the business lost immediately after the terrorist attacks.

Other new initiatives include a free airfare promotion and a $15 million nationwide television and print ad campaign.

The Fly Free to Puerto Rico deal, crafted in partnership with American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Spirit and ATA, offers up to two free roundtrip tickets for every hotel room booked for at least five nights through a participating wholesaler.

The offer runs through Dec. 15, for travel originating in New York, Newark, Chicago Midway, and Orlando, Miami or Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Participating wholesalers include Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Travel Impressions, American Airline Vacations, Continental Vacations, Inter Island Vacations, Brendan Tours, Classic Custom Vacations, ATA Vacations, Apple Vacations and Carradona.

Tourism officials also recently unveiled a revamped PRTC Web site as part of the new "You're Not Dreaming, You're in Puerto Rico" ad campaign.

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