Teresa Caballero recently joined the Puerto Rico Tourism Company as
its new deputy executive director of marketing. She discusses
travel to the island and her marketing plans with contributing
editor Robin Amster.
TW: How did Puerto Rico's tourism industry fare this year, and
what do you expect for 1998?
Caballero: For the fiscal year 1996-1997, registrations in
Puerto Rico's hotels and paradors, our small inns, totaled
1,218,889, representing 3,289,655 guests. The average occupancy
rate for this period was 70.1%. The average occupancy rate in the
metropolitan San Juan area from January through April 1996 was
83.8%, a 2.4% increase over the same period in 1995. We expect to
keep the occupancy rates throughout the island above 70% for this
TW: What goals do you have for tourism to Puerto Rico?
Caballero: We want to decentralize tourism out of the San Juan
We also want to work on expanding the length of time tourists
spend here; that figure now is 2.7 days. We plan to develop
strategies and programs, including advertising and special
promotions, aimed at having visitors stay longer.
It's also important that people get to know the island and the
different attractions. Not that we want to de-emphasize San Juan,
but we want to let visitors know of the other areas throughout
Puerto Rico. Most of these areas, like El Yunque tropical rain
forest on the eastern side of the island, have great paradors.
Puerto Rico also has more than 10 golf resorts, including, for
example, El Conquistador Resort & Country Club and the new
Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort & Country Club. This is quite
distinctive for a Caribbean destination.
TW: You are new to the tourism industry. How do you view the
role of travel agents?
Caballero: I am coming into the industry from the consumer goods
business and I know it is critical in the distribution of products
that people be aware of those products. I see travel agents as a
key element in providing that consumer awareness. We have a program
of road shows and seminars for travel agents. We are also being a
bit stronger this year on the educational aspects of our program.
We feel we really have to get closer to the agents and communicate
to them the excitement of what's happening in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico Tourism Company: (800) 223-6530, fax (212)