Rediscovering Puerto Rico
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Rediscovering Puerto Rico

By Michael Pinchera | Oct 5, 2018

Photo courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

Ed Carey, chief sales officer for Discover Puerto Rico, is traveling the mainland U.S. to educate meeting planners on the reality of holding meetings and events on the “island of enchantment.” The mission of espousing the message that Puerto Rico is back and better than ever will take his team to IMEX America, Oct. 16-18 in Las Vegas.

“At IMEX America, we’re going to have a live video feed from the island directly to our booth,” he says.

While the specifics are still being discussed, Carey says the live video may show the lively activity on the streets of Old San Juan, the sublime Puerto Rico Convention Center, the island’s peaceful beaches and more.

“We want to mix it up and show people many different areas on the island to prove that it’s better than ever,” he says.

The very nature of the relatively new destination marketing organization for which Carey works, Discover Puerto Rico—partly Meet Puerto Rico, partly the leisure division of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company that’s operated as a private organization, he says—is intended to create greater cohesion for the meeting and event industry, year after year.

“In the past, every four years with a new administration, messaging would change, so we didn’t have a solid backbone of our brand,” he explains. “[Working as a private organization] allows us to build the brand of Puerto Rico to leave to the next generation of hoteliers.”

In December, the loud-and-clear message was that the tourism zone was fully open for meeting and event business. Now, he says, more than 130 hotels are open across the island (totaling approximately 10,800 guest rooms) and infrastructure investment is booming. Those hotels not open, he says, are taking advantage of this opportunity to renovate, and telecoms, for example, have spent a fortune on underground fiber optic cable so the post-Hurricane Maria communications problems won’t happen again.

“The value proposition of Puerto Rico that we have always enjoyed—ease of access, use of the U.S. dollar, no passport required (for U.S. citizens), the convenience of a U.S. destination with the lure of a Caribbean destination, an incredible culture and culinary scene…those all still exist, but now, on top of that, we’re coming back with great new products,” he says.

Some of those new products include 3,800 hotel rooms in the pipeline and District San Juan, a five-acre, multimillion-dollar facility that will offer additional meeting space, restaurants, entertainment and more when it opens next year.

“We appreciate corporate social responsibility initiatives, but what we need most is you to book meetings with us,” Carey says. “I think the comeback of Puerto Rico is one of the most extraordinary stories in our industry at the moment…and wouldn’t it be great to be a part of that?”

Read our additional coverage about Puerto Rico in “A Robust Rebound,” featured in the October edition of The Meeting Professional.

 

Author

michael-pinchera
Michael Pinchera

Michael Pinchera is an award-winning writer and editor for The Meeting Professional as well as a speaker, technologist and contributor to business, academic and pop culture publications since 1997. Read more of his work at www.whatmemeworry.com.