SAN JUAN — As the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria approaches, Discover Puerto Rico has launched a new initiative to flip the script, from one that focuses on Maria’s devastating impact to a new message about hope and hospitality.
#CoverTheProgress aims to encourage travellers and news media to share real-time island imagery and the many milestones that have led the island to achieve one of the “greatest comeback stories in tourism”. This initiative stems from the strong sentiment of the local community paired with the positive reactions from recent travellers to Puerto Rico.
“Six months after Hurricane Maria hit, more than 50% of travellers said media coverage negatively impacted their view of Puerto Rico as a destination, and we’re hoping to change that as the one-year anniversary approaches,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. “Puerto Rico declared itself open for tourism in late December, and the local tourism industry has worked very hard for the past year to come back strong. There’s a lot to celebrate and we don’t want the one-year anniversary to set us back.”
Dean also noted that while there’s still progress to be made in some areas of the island, Discover Puerto Rico is “taking this moment to encourage all audiences to help us spotlight our tourism recover and invite travellers to visit us as tourism is a vital contributor to the economy.”
As part of #CoverTheProgress, local members of Humacao – one of the island’s hardest hit communities that became well known for its now viral S.O.S. image during Maria’s aftermath – have a new message to share. They teamed up with the local tourism industry to replace the aerial image with a new message that reads: “Bienvenidos!”
“We’ve been wanting to clean up that message for a while as we’re past it,” said Janet Gonzalez, resident of Humacao. “We were asked what message we’d want to share with the world and hope our new positive message spreads just as fast.”
Here are a few tourism milestones achieved in recent months:
• Flight capacity is on the rise with monthly seat capacity surpassing the 420,000 figure. There are currently on average 110 daily flights via 28 different airlines. By Q4, Puerto Rico is poised to be on par with 2017 levels.
• There are more cruises on the island than ever before, with 14 vessels (four more than last year). Puerto Rico also has 119 cruise shore excursions currently available.
• Cruise tourism in May saw the best results for that month in the last 20 years, with 107,390 cruise passengers received, up 12.9% than May 2017.
• For the next cruise season, a record-breaking 1.7 million passengers are expected, which equates to approximately US$250 million in revenue.
• There are currently 132 lodging options on the island.
• In October 2018, 657 new rooms will be available courtesy of Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton and The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. In December, another 480 rooms will be available from Mélia Coco Beach, while 652 new rooms will open in January from Caribe Hilton.
• The islands of Culebra and Vieques are ready to welcome visitors. There are day excursions to the islands from mainland Puerto Rico.
To reiterate the fact that Puerto Rico is open for business, Air Canada Vacations is bringing back its popular fly free to San Juan and cruise offer with Royal Caribbean International.
Until Aug. 26, cruisers will receive a free roundtrip flight to San Juan when booking a balcony category stateroom or higher on select Freedom of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas cruises sailing from San Juan.
The promotion is based on economy class service with a maximum savings of $380 per person from Toronto or Montreal. Guests are responsible for paying the taxes, which are approximately $150 per person.
Guests departing from other Canadian gateways will receive a maximum savings of $540 per person when travelling in service class G on connecting flights, and service class F on the main flight segment.
New individual bookings for cruise and flight packages must be made between Aug. 20-26, 2018, for select sailings between Oct. 28, 2018 and April 28, 2019.
For more information go to aircanadavacations.com. For more information on travel to Puerto Rico go to DiscoverPuertoRico.com.