Puerto Rico has a doctorate in resilience, said Jose Suarez, president of Discover Puerto Rico, during a virtual panel discussion titled Lessons from Crisis and Recovery with Discover Puerto Rico. He explained that after the recent hurricanes and earthquakes, the island has learned what key areas it needs to focus on. One is a crisis preparedness manual that team members can use to solve problems. We have realized the importance of communication, said Suarez, who added that regular meetings have been held with leaders of the health, tourism and business sectors on the island since the pandemic began.
Data rules, Juarez said, noting that marketing will depend on the situation. The most important advice, he says, is to look to the future with transparency. There should be no surprises for visitors, he said. Suarez said most businesses on the island, main attractions and beaches are open, but changes could occur within a few hours. Bars will be closed and restaurants must close at 11pm. Information is continually updated on the Discover Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico Tourism Company websites. Visitors should expect everyone to wear a mask.
Manuel Laboy, executive director of the island’s Central Authority for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resilience, also said the earthquake and hurricane of 100 years ago has really changed the way the island views things. He said Puerto Rico was one of the first jurisdictions in the United States to close its doors. He explained that Discover Puerto Rico has been fortunate to face some serious challenges in recent years, making us probably the best-equipped DMO (Destination Management Organization) in the world. He added: We have the lessons, the tools and the knowledge to help us take tourism to the next level.
Regarding cruises, Ann Madison, senior vice president of global marketing and strategic communications for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said the industry must be at the crossroads of messages and that any innovation must be holistic and based on science and medicine. She added that CLIA has increased the frequency of consumer confidence monitoring to see where its actions resonate. It’s also important to stay the course, she said, to learn not to listen to certain voices and not get distracted by the naysayers. We had to determine which hearts and minds to change, Madison said.
She said the association’s travel advisers speak of the power of travel enthusiasm, which will not go away. She says consultants say they want a 360-degree experience, meaning a before and after, as well as the cruise itself. It’s not a pandemic or an epidemic, Madison said. It will also change the face of travel in many ways.
The pandemic, Madison said, created a moment of reboot. If in the past it was possible to get a larger share of the marketing vote in countries with high financial activity, this is now a new beginning. She says that while there will continue to be interest in great destinations, people will look for places that offer authentic experiences and safety. I have a lot of conversations with travel agents about this, she said, and we need to formalize that.
Don Welsh, CEO of Destinations International, the trade association of the DMOs, said Puerto Rico is in a good position for recovery because it has infrastructure, good hotels, adequate lift and more. He said he hoped tourism would pick up by summer. There is no substitute for the real experience of travel, he said, and people will come back if they feel the place is safe.
San Juan, Puerto Rico – View of the Condado Beach resort. (Photo via SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Diana Plazas-Trowbridge, director of sales and marketing for the Caribbean and Latin America at Marriott International, said many of the innovations related to the pandemic will continue beyond the pandemic. This includes digital tools such as the company’s mobile app. In addition, companies should listen to their customers about how hotels handle social distancing and adhere to cloak and dagger rules. We need to be in touch with customers, Plazas-Trowbridge said, and know that we need to be agile and not go back to the way we did things before.
We must remember, Laboy said, that there will be another disaster. We do not know what form it will take or when it will happen, but we must understand that we must be ready at all times. He said the island must continue to make progress so that someone who comes here today will see a better situation the next time they travel in a few months.
Madison said it is up to the travelers themselves to resume the trip, pointing out that people will decide when the time is right. They need to create a framework that helps them make that decision.
Plazas-Trowbridge said one positive is that many travelers who had never considered Puerto Rico are now doing so due to restrictions elsewhere, and the goal should be to communicate with them to maintain that momentum.
frequently asked questions
Puerto Rico’s recovery for tourists?
Tourism Supports Island’s Economy When Puerto Rico reopens, tourism dollars will be vital to the island’s economy. You can help by working with a local to organize your trip. Locals give you inside information on the best beaches in Puerto Rico – and help rebuild the island. It’s a win-win situation.
What is Puerto Rico doing to help the environment?
Puerto Rico is full of beautiful beaches, mangroves and coral reefs that are home to hundreds of species, from plants and birds to manatees and dolphins. … The Nature Conservancy works to build resilience to the impacts of climate change and protect the vital resources of vulnerable communities in Puerto Rico.
Has Puerto Rico recovered from Maria?
Three years after Hurricane Maria, San Juan is stronger than ever. After all the hardships Puerto Rico has endured in recent years, the local community is rebuilding its culture like never before.
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