Miami, .- The “recovery” of tourism in Puerto Rico after the scourge of the hurricanes of 2017 is a matter of the past, with figures that “exceed” even the growth forecasts, said on Monday to Efe Carla Campos, executive director of the Tourism Company of Puerto Rico (CTPR).
“The tourism industry has been extremely resilient on the island” and has achieved a “recovery in record time,” Campos told Efe in Miami, where he participated in the inauguration of Seatrade Cruise Global, the most important international cruise trade fair in the sector.
The island, he said, “turned the page of recovery into growth in tourism” with records, for example, in the arrival of cruise passengers.
In this regard, he explained that this year a “historic” figure of 1,785,000 visitors is expected between July 2018 and June 2019.
“The ships are not only arriving in Puerto Rico, but they are arriving full,” he said.
He indicated that these are successive records, recalling that last year the cruise industry exceeded 1.6 million for the 1.5 million in 2015.
On the other hand, he informed that the transit stops of these ships increased 73% in the last nine months, in comparison with the same previous period. That increase, he said, was 44% in the stops made by the boats that have the island as the base port of their itineraries in the Caribbean.
“This is a reflection of the strong collaboration between cruise ship lines and the Government of Puerto Rico,” he said.
Campos recalled during a panel on cooperation held at the Seatrade fair that Puerto Rico “started from scratch, with a white canvas” after the passage of Hurricanes Irma and María in September 2017.
“That allowed us to see how all the elements of the sector are connected, and how to restore the commercial operations of the cruise lines was vital to sustain air access to the island and to achieve the goals of recovering hotel occupancy,” he added.
The tourism minister called for an end to consumer perception that Puerto Rico is “in a crisis situation, with problems of electricity, water and basic services.”
“That is not reality,” he emphasized, noting that more than 4,000 restaurants and 200 attractions are “capable” of receiving tourists, as well as a hotel inventory that “is not only open, but completely remodeled.”
“We have taken advantage of this to increase the quality of tourism in Puerto Rico,” he said.
Campos also noted that tourism “consistently” has been among the first three economic sectors generating employment on the island.
On the other hand, he described as “worrying” that President Donald Trump considers that “Puerto Rico does not merit nor have the right to receive additional federal funds” for recovery.
He recalled that hurricanes Irma and María represented the “greatest crisis of a natural disaster in the history of the United States” and that in that context aid must be “proportional and fair in comparison with other jurisdictions”.
He stated that the management of resources has been “transparent” and regretted that they are treated as “second class citizens”.
The official made this Monday part of the panel “Partner to maintain the cruise ecosystem: Improve community relations and ports”, with the idea of ”letting the world know that we are open to do business.”
The tourism minister also stressed that the island will be the venue in 2020 of the XX World Tourism Summit, which will take place from April 21 to 23 in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico.
“It will be an opportunity to show that Puerto Rico is open to visitors and is a model and a benchmark for recovery,” he said.
Campos, together with cruise directors Claus Bodker, from Copenhagen; Mai Elmar, from Port Rotterdam, Bruce Krumrine, from Princess Cruises, and Michael Pawlus, Azamara Club, also emphasized the need to link local tourist destinations with tourism plans.
“The cruise industry, which has been considered mass, has been adjusting to the new global trends,” Campos said, noting that the modern traveler is looking for authentic experience, “in which they can feel they are part of the community local “. (EFEUSA)