It’s been almost a year since Puerto Rico met Hurricane Maria, and the island is undergoing a massive rebuild to change the tone of conversation from disaster to opportunity. With the launch of a new DMO and dissolution of its pre-existing tourism and marketing organizations, Puerto Rico is ready, willing
and able to declare to the world that it’s open for business.
From the outside looking in, this is no easy sell to many event planners in all sectors.
It seems as though any time Puerto Rico makes the mainstream news, it’s in the wake of dayslong power outages, protests or an ongoing economic crisis.
A big question mark now looms over the island. But as any good event professional knows, it is also an opportunity for industry leaders to take advantage of the scrutiny to correct misconceptions.
For instance, traveling to San Juan feels like traveling to another country to many first-timers. It’s not until they’re aboard a U.S. domestic flight that they realize it’s closer to home than they originally thought. Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory—albeit nestled in the heart of the Caribbean—there’s no need for U.S. planners to bring passports or worry about going through customs.
The island hosts the largest convention center in the Caribbean, with 600,000 square feet of meeting space that housed victims and first responders during the hurricane. Puerto Rico has 150 hotels—120 of which are back up and running post-Maria—1,855 restaurants and bars, 13 golf courses, 15 casinos, and more than 120 attractions and activities. Its capital city of San Juan is the second-oldest city in the Western Hemisphere and home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site.