Destination Directory

Puerto Rico: #PRStrong

A look at Caribbean recovery efforts.

As the holidays approached and millions of vacation days sat unused, Americans sought ways to make a difference. Many wondered how to help their fellow Americans in hurricane-wracked Puerto Rico. Responding to the high demand from loyal travelers, Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) introduced a meaningful travel campaign and launched a series of Rebuild Days at multiple attractions, through the end of the year.

Puerto Rico depends upon tourism to keep its economies flowing. The Island has been a steadfast partner to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the National Association of Career Travel Agent (NACTA)'s parent company, for years. Zane Kerby, ASTA President & CEO, is a strong advocate for the effort to help Puerto Rico and encourage Caribbean tourism.

Kerby contributed to the Tourism Cares Destination Disaster Recovery Fund, donating for every mile of a 100-mile bicycle ride—a distance he hadn't before ridden. In November, he traveled to Puerto Rico to officially kick off Rebuild Days at Camuy Cave Park, the third largest underground cave system in the world. A beautiful natural wonder with the Camuy River running through it, the cave features ceilings over 10 stories and natural artworks from the spectacular stalactites and stalagmites found within.

Encouraging locals, Puerto Ricans abroad and others seeking meaningful travel opportunities, PRTC welcomed fans of the Island to help contribute to its recovery and partake in its rebuilding efforts. With the majority of San Juan's hotels operating and welcoming visitors, the city has become a respite for locals and responders and is the ideal place to visit for those interested in adding purpose to their travel. Visiting, staying at local hotels, eating at local restaurants, buying from local businesses, and giving back through rebuilding efforts is the best way to support Puerto Rico. The Island is focused on reactivating the local economy, with tourism at the forefront of the economic development agenda.

Meaningful travel provides a unique opportunity for those interested in giving back while traveling. Visiting Puerto Rico provides the chance to rebuild, while still experiencing the Island's charm.

"Our travel advisor members have been receiving many inquiries from travelers loyal to Puerto Rico who want to visit and join in on its rebuilding efforts. Puerto Rico is a one-of-a-kind destination, with many loyal visitors who want to be part of its comeback," Kerby said.

"It often seems that there's just too much to do for one person or one company to make a difference. But I implore each of us to find that one thing that we can do. There are so many ways to get involved and I hope you find your own way to contribute. We're all in this together."

CARIBBEAN IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) launched CaribbeanIsOpen.com in October 2017. The landing site is part of FCCA's multifaceted million-dollar campaign to generate awareness that the majority of Caribbean destinations are operating normally—unhindered by hurricanes Irma and Maria—and continue welcoming tens of thousands of travelers every day.

The CaribbeanIsOpen.com website features footage of and updates from destinations, a map showing the more than 80 ports currently open and ready to welcome guests, a Q&A broaching potential travelers' questions about visiting the Caribbean, testimonials from travelers who recently visited the Caribbean and more.

This is part of the million-dollar FCCA campaign "The Caribbean Is Open," targeting multiple media sources with similar footage and testimonials along with initiatives such as a special event, celebrity support, and input and backing from destination leaders and travel industry titans. The FCCA is working directly with select destination partners to further tailor the message and to create and distribute press materials that complement the campaign.

Consider This ...

Please encourage travelers to cruise the Caribbean, one of the world's most popular places to vacation. It offers spectacular beaches on the Caribbean Sea, dozens of diverse island destinations, vibrant towns with fascinating local residents and businesses, and remains easily accessible.

Tourism is critical for Caribbean economies, with cruising a vital part of its overall economic impact. The Caribbean has been the world's most popular cruise vacation region for decades, as it is today. The storms of 2017 spared much of the Caribbean, and the vast majority of the region is open for business and providing great vacations to thousands of cruise passengers daily.

Edited by Amy L Charles, Editorial Director for Serendipity Media. This article was originally published in the Mid-Winter 2018 issue of Agent Life magazine, the official publication of the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA).


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