SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- With groundbreaking for the Puerto Rico
Convention Center set to take place by year's end, the island
already has started to break new ground on the meetings and
The island currently has many hotel projects in the works, most
with substantial improvements for the properties' meeting
facilities, said Jorge Pesquera, executive director of the Puerto
Rico Convention Bureau.
In addition, Pesquera said many airlines recently have announced
major expansions into the Caribbean market.
"Group business is one of the fastest-growing market segments in
the world, and the meetings business in Puerto Rico represents more
than half a billion dollars in direct spending and generates more
indirectly," Pesquera said.
"Hotels and airlines eager to capitalize on such a growing
market are strengthening their products and services
For instance, TWA recently began daily, nonstop service from Los
Angeles to San Juan, making it easier for West Coast companies to
hold conventions in Puerto Rico.
From 1992 to 1998, American, American Eagle, Continental, Delta,
Northwest, TWA, US Airways and United increased passenger movement
into Puerto Rico by 1 million passengers, according to Felix Laboy,
executive vice president of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau.
"In the past, PRCB has focused its marketing efforts on the East
Coast," Laboy said. "But the new services will enable Puerto Rico
to capture a larger share of the West Coast-based business."
The PRCB will begin focusing more heavily on the West Coast
business, Pesquera said.
Meanwhile, the $495 million convention center will have more
than 500,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space when it
opens in 2002. It also will include a 110-acre trade district with
a hotel and retail and residential space.