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Meet Puerto Rico Wants to Give Meeting and Event Industry Opportunity to Be Part of Rebuilding Process

Meet Puerto Rico President and CEO Milton Segarra

As Puerto Rico recovers from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, they’re turning to the meeting and event industry for suggestions on how to come back better than before, Meet Puerto Rico President and CEO Milton Segarra said on Tuesday at IMEX America.

“If I gave you the opportunity to have a blank canvas, what type of destination would you like to have in the future?” Segarra asked.

Meet Puerto Rico is literally doing that with a wall in their booth at IMEX America, where attendees can write their thoughts and ideas.

“We’re going to use those to enhance our action plan for the future and we have seen phenomenal recommendations on that wall so far,” he said.

Segarra gave an update on the recovery progress of the island’s infrastructure, saying three quarters of the ports are open, 860 of the 1,100 gas stations are functioning and 52 percent of the telecommunications service—which he said “suffered significantly”—is functioning.

According to Segarra, the five regional airports and main airport in San Juan are fully operational, with over 329 weekly nonstop flights arriving from the U.S. They expect that number to increase to 761 by the end of the year and weekly international flights to remain steady at 38.

Additionally, the Puerto Rico Convention Center is fully operational and is currently acting as the headquarters for federal and Puerto Rican governmental and relief operations.

Segarra said that five hotels are currently open and that most of them are currently housing FEMA personnel and first responders. By the end of October, 23 hotels should begin taking new reservations, and that number will grow to 32 by the end of December.

Looking into the immediate future, Segarra said that 2018 will mark the 325th anniversary of the discovery of Puerto Rico and that, coincidentally, it will be time for people to see the island’s recovery for themselves.

“We think what a better way to rediscover Puerto Rico than after all of the [recovery efforts], we could come back strong to the market,” he said. “We’re going to have better hotels, a better convention center, all the infrastructure is going to be enhanced.”

In the meantime, Segarra said Meet Puerto Rico wants the input from the meeting and event industry to come back as an improved destination.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure people are engaged, people participate in the rebuild, because in the end…we want to make sure [meeting and event planners] have what they deserve.”

About the Author

Jeff Loy
Jeff Loy

Digital Editor at MPI