El Morro, Puerto Rico // © 2010 Puerto Rico Tourism Company
Agents should prepare themselves for a new marketing take on Puerto Rico as there will be plenty of news about Puerto Rico’s islands in the coming months. In fact, much of the new marketing campaign will focus on the islands of Vieques and Culebra.
“The perception is that San Juan is Puerto Rico, whereas it’s actually only a small part of the islands,” said Gabriel R. Emanuelli, director of sales, North America, Puerto Rico Tourism Company. “We encourage visitors to rent cars and discover the islands on their own.” Increasing Numbers
This years tourism numbers look promising for Puerto Rico, and the U.S. is key to Puerto Rico’s success since 90 percent of the country’s visitors hail from the states.
Currently, the destination has 12,500 hotel rooms. The goal, however, is to reach 15,000 guestrooms in the next couple of years. This target will be partially met by the upcoming opening of W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island, scheduled for a March 4 debut; and the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico, opening in November.
Puerto Rico already has a huge cruise business and, according to Emanuelli, the islands will grow their cruise business by 30 percent in 2010.
“In 2009, we recovered 60 percent of the flights we lost in previous years. Many of these were from American Airlines,” said Emanuelli.
Puerto Rico also welcomed its first flights from Virgin Atlantic last November.
Emerging New Markets
Puerto Rico Tourism is also looking to new markets, including the burgeoning medical tourism market.
“We’ve just started presenting this in the media and the perception isn’t out there yet,” said Emanuelli. “A patient from the U.S. can save up to 50 to 80 percent here. Puerto Rico’s medical tourism encompasses much more than cosmetic surgery — we can provide such treatments as dialysis, too.”
Unlike other destinations in the Caribbean, clients are not required to bring passports to visit Puerto Rico. The proximity of the U.S. to Puerto Rico makes it an attractive destination wedding choice for those needing medical treatment. For example, a wedding guest in need of dialysis would find dialysis centers throughout Puerto Rico, making it possible to receive treatment while traveling to attend a wedding. Whatever the client’s interest or needs, agents can capitalize on selling a multi-faceted vacation to the islands.
According to Emanuelli, agents are important to the region’s success since 70 percent of visitors to Puerto Rico use wholesalers and travel agents. And, 2010 shows that the relationship Puerto Rico has with wholesalers is growing.
“This year, we made 20 agreements with wholesalers, including smaller wholesalers, tripling the number of agreements,” said Emanuelli.
Puerto Rico Tourism Company