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PR Newswire

Puerto Rico Tourism Company Unveils New Tourism Initiatives for 2003

February 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. 

Jose M. Suarez, Newly Appointed PRTC Executive Director, Visits Five U.S. Cities to Reintroduce Media and Industry to the Destination

SAN JUAN - The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) kicks off the new year with a tour of New York City, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and Dallas, hosting an event in each market to re-introduce the media and travel industry to Puerto Rico 's authentic Latin culture and diverse activities and discuss the economic impact these new initiatives will have on the island. Jose M. Suarez, who was appointed PRTC executive director on December 23, 2002, will lead the missions.

The objective of the missions is to re-acquaint the travel media with Puerto Rico 's beauty, culture and attractions, and give a preview of exciting plans for the future of Puerto Rico tourism. Consumer and trade media, as well as key industry leaders, including travel agents, cruise, hotel, tour operator and airline executives, will be in attendance.

"This is a very exciting time for tourism in Puerto Rico ," said Suarez. "These missions focus on our primary U.S. markets, and serve as a means to showcase the latest developments in Puerto Rico 's destination branding, infrastructure improvements, hotels, attractions, marketing initiatives and economic growth. It is also an opportunity to remind our friends that we are a must-see destination that awaits their visit."

Each event will be a celebration of the cuisine, drink, music and dance of Puerto Rico with a business presentation by Mr. Suarez. The Puerto Rico media missions are scheduled as follows:

* New York City - February 10 * Chicago - February 12 * Miami - February 25 * Los Angeles - February 27 * Dallas - March 3

Following is an overview of the announcements that will be made during the missions:

Travel & Transportation Forum

Major new tourism development strategies are part of an overall effort by the government and private sector of Puerto Rico to improve existing infrastructure and develop new opportunities to keep the island's tourism industry growing. The Committee for Air Access and Transportation has come together to bring air service to Puerto Rico to new levels. Recent results include new flights by Pan Am into Aguadilla, a rapidly growing tourism hub on the western coast of the island; new service by Caribbean Sun Airlines, a sister company of Antigua-based Star Airlines, between San Juan and Antigua, St. Kitts Tortola and St Maarten; and discussions are under way with several other airlines to improve and expand their service.

The cruise industry is also experiencing growth on the island. Puerto Rico , one of the top three cruise ports in the world and the top port in Latin America and the Caribbean, has negotiated an agreement with the Florida Caribbean Cruise association to reach out to cruise passengers, encouraging them to spend more time on the island, in association with their cruise itineraries. Through marketing tools including video in the ship's cabin, distribution of brochures at port, providing crews with scripts and guidebooks and sending PRTC promotional staff to board ships while they are at port, cruisegoers are learning more about Puerto Rico and being enticed to explore.

In addition, the Wind Surf, a Windstar cruise ship, will be making stops on the Puerto Rican island of Culebra, 17 miles off of the east coast. Stops began in January 2003. Itineraries consist of a relaxing day of sunbathing and snorkeling on Flamenco Beach, rated one of the World's Best by the Discovery Channel.

Another major project, expected to have an immense economic impact for the island, is the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, which will be the Caribbean's top meeting facility upon its completion. Scheduled to open in Spring 2005, this new facility will position Puerto Rico among world-class contenders in the market for large meetings and conventions. The Convention Center will have 580,000 sq. feet of meeting space, including a 159,000-square foot exhibition hall and a 40,000-sq. foot banquet hall. The project is in the first phase, which involves the development of infrastructure to support the facility (roads, electricity, water) and the construction of a hotel with 850 rooms, expected to open in 2006. Future phases will triple meeting space and add a second hotel, as well as residential, office and retail space.

Marketing & Promotions

Over the past year, PRTC has implemented aggressive marketing initiatives to elevate awareness about the diversity of activities, the authentic Latin culture and other characteristics that make the island a top choice for potential visitors from the mainland. PRTC is broadening the reach of promotional and marketing efforts into new markets including Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, and has created new promotional campaigns geared toward moving away from the perception of the island as a generic beach destination.

One of the exciting and innovative ways in which PRTC will reach potential visitors this year is through new 30-minute infomercials that will run on local cable stations in the Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles markets beginning in February. These television campaigns are geared toward promoting the destination and peaking interest in the niche markets that are well served throughout the island, including golf, scuba, spas, adventure and ecotourism. This new visual tool is a unique way to capture viewers and introduce them to the vacation of their dreams.

PRTC has also partnered with several major media outlets to promote the island through special programs.

* Puerto Rico was the location for the broadcast of Live with Regis & Kelly, over the 2002 Thanksgiving holiday. This partnership resulted in unprecedented ratings for the show and an opportunity for their audience to experience the island's diverse attractions and authentic Latin culture from the comfort of their homes. * A partnership with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) and Rums of Puerto Rico , involving cross-media marketing through MSLO's various wedding, lifestyle and family publications and programs recently culminated in "The Perfect Wedding in Puerto Rico ." An all expenses paid wedding in Puerto Rico for the winning couple from Louisiana and 100 of their guests took place February 1st, followed by a fabulous tropical honeymoon on the island. * In an effort to promote the island's diverse golf experiences, PRTC partnered with Travel & Leisure Golf for the Puerto Rico Ambassador's Cup. Several amateur teams, affiliated with private golf courses from throughout the US, participated in the final Ambassador's Cup Tournament in Puerto Rico , December 11-15, 2002. This partnership was so successful that plans are already in place for the island to host the tournament again in December 2003.

Finally, Puerto Rico is in the unique position this year to capitalize on America's passion for baseball as Major League Baseball's Montreal Expos will play in Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan for 22 games this season. Teams that will be traveling to Puerto Rico to play include the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Anaheim Angels, Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins and Chicago Cubs. PRTC and Rums of Puerto Rico will sponsor the games in an effort to bring attention not just to the games, but the entire experience of being on the island while enjoying a favorite pastime. This is a monumental opportunity to generate considerable excitement about Puerto Rico and is expected to have a significant economic impact on the island's tourism industry.

Hotel Developments

Moving into the future, Puerto Rico is experiencing immense growth in our tourism infrastructure, with 21 new hotel projects actively under development, totaling an investment of over $560 million dollars and resulting in 2,782 jobs in the construction stage and 2,572 permanent positions during operation. These properties will add 2,261 rooms to Puerto Rico 's inventory (a 15% increase in the total capacity), for a total of 12,865 rooms on the island. The following projects are nearing the opening phase at this time:

* Marriott Courtyard Isla Verde, in San Juan, opened January 2003 * Rincon of the Seas - Grand Caribbean Hotel, on the west coast in Rincon, opened February 8, 2003 * Cayo Largo Inter-Continental Resort, on the east coast of the island, to begin operation in May 2003 * Caguas Hampton Inn, south of San Juan, to open Summer 2003 * Paradisus Sol Melia, to open November of 2003 in Rio Grande

In the planning stages, up to 56 new hotel projects, totaling 8,627 rooms are under consideration. These projects, once they come to fruition, will create 7,123 jobs during construction and 5,005 permanent positions upon the opening. Total investment in present and planned projects is over $2.2 billion and will result in a 56% increase in rooms available. Major projects under development right now include:

* Fairmont Coco Beach Resort, on the east coast * Condado Vanderbilt and La Concha hotels, flanking the future "Ventana al Mar", a beautiful sea-side plaza in the Condado region * JW Marriott, on the east coast in Fajardo * San Miguel Four Seasons, in Luquillo Unique Collection - Luxury Hotels of Puerto Rico

PRTC is taking a new approach to marketing the island's independently owned hotels with unique locations throughout the island, including Vieques and Culebra. The Unique Collection - Luxury Hotels of Puerto Rico is a group of small hotels and resorts throughout the island that offer individualized service and settings for a distinctive Puerto Rico experience. The properties included in the collection are Copamarina Beach Resort (Guanica), El Convento (San Juan), Horned Dorset Primavera (Rincon), Hix's Island House ( Vieques ), Inn on the Blue Horizon ( Vieques ), Rincon Beach Resort (Rincon), Villa Montana (Isabela) and The Water Club (San Juan).

Regional Destination Branding Program

In January, as part of Governor Calderon's far-reaching strategic plan to support and expand the island's tourism and economic development program, PRTC introduced Puerto Rico 's first regional destination branding program. "Porta del Sol" was the first region launched and was designed specifically to promote the western area of the island. This regional program for the west is the beginning of what will be a gradual roll-out of three other regional marketing initiatives for the south, east and central regions of the island. Region-by-region promotional efforts will continue through 2004 and beyond, in an effort to expand the island's tourism. "Porta del Sol" will comprise a public relations, advertising and marketing strategy to promote the western region as a destination for vacationers seeking authentic Latin culture, diverse activities, as well as pristine beaches and lush natural scenery.

Travel Agent Programs

Focusing on the vital role of travel agents in promoting the destination, the PRTC launched the newly redesigned Travel Agent Section of in November. In this section, agents will find a comprehensive online guide that serves as a broad resource for travel agents to reference when planning and booking memorable Puerto Rico vacations for their clients.

Puerto Rico Travel Experts, the established program designed for travel agents interested in becoming certified experts on Puerto Rico , will continue this year with 20 seminars planned throughout the U.S. from March through May. The program consists of a series of seminars, field trips and workshops that provide information on a variety of topics, including Puerto Rico 's accommodations, golf, spas, scuba, history & culture, attractions, dining & nightlife, beaches, water activities and much more. For more information on participating in a seminar and becoming a Puerto Rico Travel Expert, agents should call 800-223-6530 x504, or email Additional information is available online at

Finally, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company is launching a dedicated travel agent hotline for quick access to support and materials including:

* Collateral and promotional materials * Information about hotels, attractions and restaurants * Assistance with conflict resolution including facilities, service providers and commission payments * Assistance with site inspections

Puerto Rico is in the process of immense growth and development in the tourism industry, and PRTC is excited about the innovative ideas that will bring the destination into the future. Through the media missions, Mr. Suarez will emphasize the important role the media and their tourism partners play as ambassadors in communicating news about the destination.

For general information about planning a trip to Puerto Rico , contact (800) 866-7827 or visit the Puerto Rico Tourism Company at

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), created in 1970, is a public corporation responsible for stimulating, promoting and regulating the development of the tourism industry. It markets Puerto Rico as a tourism destination through advertising, public relations and promotional activities; promotes tourism among local residents; provides visitor orientation and technical assistance to investors; evaluates tourism facilities and establishes standards of quality; and regulates and oversees gaming operations. PRTC has offices and representatives in the U.S. mainland, Canada, Europe and Latin America. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company

CONTACT: Victoria Martinez,, or Carmen Letscher, both of Edelman, +1-212-704-8154, for The Puerto Rico Tourism Company

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