Puerto Rico Tourism Co. holds destination management forum
Seeks to address sectors’ concerns with ‘compendium of recommendations’ gathered
SAN JUAN — Tourism sector representatives gathered Wednesday at the Puerto Rico Convention Center to participate in a destination management forum organized by the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC).
The event, in which about 100 people participated in nine working groups, helped raise awareness about the importance of fundamental industry issues such as safety, short-term rentals, the presence of homeless people in tourist areas, the preparation and management of critical infrastructure, coastal sensitivity, human capital, homeless pets, and ground transportation.
PRTC Executive Director Carla Campos said in a release that heads of agencies related to the issues that were touched upon attended the event, as well as hotel representatives, tourism operators, associations, academic institutions, developers, community organizations and nonprofits.
“Destination management is a shared responsibility that concerns us all,” Campos said. “The basic services such as safety, roads and transportation impact visitors’ experience and should be a priority in our efforts to bet on tourism as an economic development engine. One of the PRTC’s roles is to serve as a coordinating and facilitating entity, so that these topics can be addressed adequately by the different agencies and entities with the private sector’s participation. Our objective it to achieve that, by creating the proper environment, not only can we reach visitors’ expectations, but we can exceed them with a first-class experience.”
The forum was held to facilitate an environment of open dialog, where all the components and spokespeople of the tourism industry could share their concerns and receive valuable insight, as well as learning about each agency’s role in implementing work plans for each topic discussed.
“The forum provided an opportunity to address, in an orderly manner, the input of all matters that affect the visitors’ and residents’ experience, on the private sector’s economic wellbeing and that they constantly form part of the public discussion,” Campos stressed. “The input gathered in this meeting will be part of a compendium of recommendations to immediately improve the destination management, focusing on improving the visitor experience as a key strategy to continue betting on tourism as the launching point for our economic development strategy.”
Among those who participated were Transportation Secretary Carlos Contreras; Emergency Management and Disaster Bureau Commissioner Carlos Acevedo; Transportation and Public Service Bureau President Luis García; Public Safety Deputy Director Guillermo Torruellas; and FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglass Leff; as well as Ports Authority, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) and Justice Department officials.
New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Nestor Alonso, who is a member of the House Tourism and Social Wellbeing Committee, and independent Sen. José Vargas Vidot, who is an expert on the island’s homeless issue, also participated. Also present were, Brad Dean, the CEO of the island’s destination marketing organization, Discover Puerto Rico, and his team.
In her keynote, Campos mentioned the importance that human capital represents, noting that the topic is not sufficiently addressed and is necessary to strengthen destination management efforts. To that end, she said efforts are underway to foster education not only in the industry’s workforce with proper training, but also to promote educating the youth so the island’s entire population is knowledgeable about the intrinsic benefits of tourism.
Also at the event was Tara Loller, of the U.S. Humane Society, who spoke about the abandoned animals on the island. Although the entity has carried out the largest mass sterilization campaign in Puerto Rico, additional solutions to tackle the numbers need to be implemented, officials said.