WTTC’s 2020 Summit Moved from Puerto Rico to Mexico

(Screen capture of www.wttc.org)

SAN JUAN — The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) decided to move its 2020 Global Summit from San Juan to Cancun, México, announced Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s destination marketing organization (DMO) and the entity that was going to host the WTTC members during the late-April summit.

The WTTC’s members include more than 170 company CEOs, board chairs and presidents. Its summit this year, which was slated to be held at the Puerto Rico Convention Center on April 21-23, was themed “Changemakers,” and emphasized the 500th anniversary of the departure of the first circumnavigation of the world from Seville, Spain. And although it had been touted by local tourism stakeholders from both the private and the public sector since last April, WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara Manzo said Tuesday the decision to relocate the annual summit was to allow Puerto Rico to move the funds set aside for the event to instead be used for “consumer-facing marketing strategies.”

In her statement, Guevara said the recent streak of earthquakes had not hindered the island’s preparedness for the annual gathering and assured another “major event” would be held in San Juan at an unannounced date later this year. 

“WTTC remains strongly committed to supporting Puerto Rico’s amazing comeback story as seen in their record-breaking year in tourism last year. Although the Island was ready to welcome us with open arms this April, despite the recent seismic activity in the southern region, reallocating resources to continue this great momentum is the right thing to do in order to further boost tourism. We are looking forward to hosting an event in Puerto Rico later this year,” the she said. 

Guevara’s statement doesn’t allude to the recent political turmoil, although in a previous visit, government officials argued that the summer’s protests, which led to then-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation, grabbed the attention of the tourism executive. 

The CEO visited the island a week and a half after now-Gov. Wanda Vázquez took office. In an August interview, Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Director Carla Campos explained that Guevara wanted to meet with people from the local tourism sector as well as to gauge the governor’s stance regarding tourism and the atmosphere after demonstrations against the government.

Discover’s CEO indicated that the funds that were destined for the summit will now go to the island’s promotion, especially attractions outside the metropolitan area. Dean also argued that District Live’s opening in the Convention Center District will also serve to attract attention from abroad.  

“When we became aware of the situation, the Tourism Company immediately exhausted all the resources at its disposal to avoid canceling this important event,” Campos said in a statement Tuesday. “However, there is a commitment to carry out another WTTC event on the Island this year.”

Campos added: “We support the initiative to re-allocate the funds that the DMO would have invested in this event into marketing efforts to increase the interest of tourists to visit our destination. We will continue to support the DMO in its efforts to make it clear to the world that Puerto Rico is open for Tourism.”

For its part, the DMO said that while “it would have been an honor to host the WTTC Global Summit, Discover Puerto Rico, the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish Initials), the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), and the Convention District Authority are aligned on focusing these resources to reach larger consumer audiences. These high-impact efforts will help continue the great momentum from 2019 and ensure 2020 is another record year for Puerto Rico. Fueling tourism is critical right now to continue to support the local communities throughout the Island.” 

The announcement comes as the marketing organization came under scrutiny for its showing in the Feria Internacional de Turismo (Fitur) fair. Critics pointed to the organization’s booth to promote the island, which seemed simple, especially when compared with other tourism players  in the Caribbean region.  

The 2020 WTTC Summit will now be held in Cancun April 2123, “with the dates for the upcoming official WTTC event in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to be announced in the near future,” the council wrote.