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Puerto Rico marketing organization focuses on island’s comeback story

By on August 20, 2018

SAN JUAN – Tackling the perception of devastation that remains 11 months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s destination marketing organization (DMO) announced a new initiative, #CoverTheProgess, which aims to show the progress made since September last year, when the massive storm struck.

The campaign intends to recruit not only tourism sector representatives but also the public, “including news media,” to point out and cover the improvements. The DMO kicked off the movement with a video about Punta Santiago, Humacao. Days after the hurricane hit, the area’s community caught the attention of social media users after an image of a Punta Santiago intersection was captured from a helicopter. Residents had written: “S.O.S We need food/water!!”  

When the image went viral, Punta Santiago had been cut off from the rest of the island, but in the video broadcast Monday by Discover Puerto Rico, the area’s recovery is revealed and Punta Santiago residents even invite tourists to visit the island.

(Discover Puerto Rico)

“We want to change the negative view about the condition of the island as the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria approaches. Puerto Rico is open to tourism since last December and the local tourism industry has worked hard over the past year to achieve a solid recovery. We have a lot to celebrate and we do not want the first anniversary to throw all this work behind us,” Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean said.

Last week, the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) announced a partnership with creative agency Beautiful Destinations that included new high-quality images and videos from different areas in Puerto Rico, which will be at the disposal of both the PRTC and Discover Puerto Rico. The partnership also means Beautiful Destinations will promote the pictures to its more than 20 million online users and followers between its website, YouTube channel and social media presence on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.

When announcing the partnership, Carla Campos, executive director of the PRTC, said the indicators showed that focusing on improving Puerto Rico’s perception abroad was needed. In a release Monday, the DMO’s Dean, spoke about one of those indicators.

“Six months after Hurricane Maria hit, more than fifty percent of travelers 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. 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,” the CEO said. “While there’s still progress to be made in some areas of the Island, we’re asking for the vibrancy of Puerto Rico as a tourism destination to also be shared and for the milestones the local industry and communities worked hard to achieve to be celebrated. We’re taking this moment to encourage all audiences to help us spotlight our tourism recovery and invite travelers to visit us as tourism is a vital contributor to the economy.”

Campos gave more details on the progress achieved so far, in terms what the island has currently available. For example, of the 15,000 hotel rooms available just before last year’s hurricanes, more than 11,000 are currently ready. However, it is expected that by next year, the island’s inventory will rise to 16,500 rooms as a result of the 28 properties under development such as Aloft District Live, ESJ Verde, Four Seasons Cayo Largo, Fox Delicias, Santurcia, and Punta Borinquen Resort.

The DMO’s release Monday listed the following as among the many milestones achieved:

  • Arrivals by Air and by Sea.
    • 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, and relationships with airlines continue to drive growth. By Q4 [the fourth quarter], the destination is poised to make a full turnaround and be on par with 2017 levels.
    • Puerto Rico has more cruises on the Island than ever before with 14 vessels – which is four more vessels than last year. The Island also has 119 cruise shore excursions for travelers to enjoy.
    • In fact, cruise tourism in May turned out to be the best results for that month in the last 20 years, with 107,390 cruise passengers received. This was 12.9% higher than the 95,139 cruise passengers who visited in May last year.
    • All-in-all, for the next cruising season, a record breaking $1.7 million passengers are expected, which equates to approximately $250 million in revenue.
  • The Return of Luxury.
    • Puerto Rico currently offers 132 diverse lodging options. Next month, travelers will have even more choices with iconic luxury hotels reopening after taking the time to renovate and new hotels opening their doors.
    • In October, 657 new rooms will be available from the Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton and The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. In December, 480 new rooms will be available from Meliá Coco Beach. And, in January, an additional 652 new rooms will be available from Caribe Hilton. Additional revamping includes El Conquistador Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort and The Ritz-Carlton San Juan.
    • The investment in new hotel development equates to $1.9 billion, which adds another 2,900 jobs locally.
  • What’s Next in Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE).
    • Puerto Rico is already a prime destination for hosting Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events. Coming next year is District LIVE!, a five acre hospitality and entertainment district built in partnership between Island Hospitality Partners and the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority. This complex is destined to be the most vibrant and popular setting for events, conventions and performances of all types in the Caribbeanregion.
  • Destination Attractions to Discover.
    • Puerto Rico offers over 189 tourist attractions, including walking tours through Old San Juan, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristobal and the Bacardi Distillery. The Island also offers salsa tours that visit famous places to dance your heart out, caving systems like Cueva Ventana, Toro Verde Adventure Park and El Yunque rainforest – the largest rainforest in the U.S. While nature takes its course, many trails of El Yunque are already open – including the Angelito Trail, La Coca Falls and the Yakahu Tower.
    • The islands of Culebra and Vieques are ready to welcome visitors, too. Culebra is home to Flamenco Beach, recognized as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are day excursions to the islands if you are staying in mainland Puerto Rico.
    • The bioluminescent bays are an experience not to miss, and Puerto Rico has three of the world’s five. The reflection of microorganisms causes the water to glow when touched. Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays are located in Mosquito Bay in Vieques; Laguna Grande in Fajardo; and La Parguera in Lajas.
    • There are plenty of culinary options with more than 1,885 restaurants across the Island, including Culebra and Vieques. Puerto Rico is a foodie’s paradise.
    • For those looking for golf and added entertainment, the Island offers 13 professional golf courses, 16 casinos and plenty of nightlife options like bars and clubs.

Puerto Rico partners with creative firm to reveal hurricane recovery

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