By Alexander Britell
SAN JUAN — In the middle of December, Puerto Rico tourism officials made a declaration.
The destination was open for business, and ready to welcome back visitors, a bold claim in the wake of last year’s devastating storms, and a necesary mindset for an island in need of rebirth.
But less than two months later, Puerto Rico’s tourism industry is indeed showing a significant recovery.
It’s a recovery that covers all facets of the tourism sector: hotels, airlift, attractions and the cruise industry, according to Acting Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Carla Campos.
The destination already has 12,458 hotel rooms, or 80 percent of its room stock, available, with another 2,670 rooms currently being revamped, according to Campos, who was speaking during the CHTA’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace conference at the Puerto Rico Convention Center.
That’s along with the highly anticipated relaunch of the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf and Beach Resort, slated to debut March 1.
The property is making its debut after a multimillion-dollar renovation.
“During the last few months the spirit of Puerto Rico has grown stronger than ever,” said Nils Stolzlechner, general manager of the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar. “We are incredibly grateful and proud that together we have restored this region into an incredible travel destination.”
That’s along with a major tourism expansion — to the tune of $1.9 billion in new hotel investment in the next three to four years.
Indeed, the hotel pipeline includes a 25 percent increase in the destination’s room stock, with new properties including a pair of Aloft hotels, a new JW Marriott, the planned Four Seasons Cayo Largo and additional rooms at the St Regis Bahia Beach and the San Juan Marriott.
There are 120 attractions open for business, while 13 golf courses in Puerto Rico are operational, along with 15 casinos.
On the cruise side, Puerto Rico has reported 410,000 passengers to San Juan since Oct. 7, 2017, with another 633,000 passengers expected through June 30.
Indeed, Campos said officials are projecting a record-breaking cruise season in the upcoming 2018-2019 season, with a total projection of 1.7 million cruise passengers.
But what about flights?
Right now, Puerto Rico is welcoming 110 daily flights, a jump from what had been just 20 daily flights in the weeks after the hurricanes.
Campos said Puerto Rico expects a return to 2017 air capacity levels by the early summer.
All in all, it adds up to a destination that is in remarkable shape just a few months after the storm. And one that’s ready for travelers to return.
“Puerto Rico has recovered and we’re ready to host you,” Campos said.