Honorable Anibal Acevedo Vila, Governor of Puerto Rico, addressed media and delegates at the first Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit (ACTS) in Washington, DC, today to present a plan that will preserve air access to Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean. The Governor also introduced a Cruise Incentives Law that will continue to provide incentives to the maritime service providers who safeguard existing routes and/or expand their operations to the region.
The Governor provided an update on a call to action issued by Puerto Rico to Caribbean nations to form a united front that will work with the airline industry to increase access to the Caribbean through the island, a bold move given the specter of the industry. As a result of these efforts, airlines such as Jet Blue, Air Tran, Continental and Delta have added service to Puerto Rico from cities like New York, Boston, Newark, Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, among others.
Rising fuel costs had forced some airlines to cancel flights to the region, a decision that stands to cripple the hotel and cruise industries operating in the Caribbean.
“The gravity of the economic crisis facing the airline industry and business in general, is especially felt in the Caribbean, a region that has benefited immensely from tourism,” said Terestella Gonzalez Denton, executive director, PRTC. “In conjunction with Governor Acevedo Vila and our partners in the Caribbean Trade Organization, we are working hard to preserve air access to the region which is the backbone to our region’s hotel and cruise industries.”
The Governor also announced the passing of a Law to expand his administration’s Cruise Incentive Program, which allocates a yearly $10 million fund for the development of Puerto Rico’s maritime industry. Coupled with a $300 million effort to modernize the island’s port infrastructure, the initiative resulted in an 8.4 percent increase in travel to Puerto Rico over the last two years.
“I am very happy to announce that we’ve just signed a law that extends our Cruise Incentive Program throughout 2010-2011,” said the Governor. “Even more important, this decree determines that on the eventuality that we manage a 20% increase by June 30, 2011, these incentives will automatically be extended to June 30, 2014.”
The Governor’s address ended with an exhortation to the delegates at ACTS to work together on issues of air and sea access in the region.
“I’ve instructed the Puerto Rico Tourism Company to work together with the Caribbean Tourism Organization in the next few weeks, to face the connectivity issues resulting from the opening of new flights to the Island and what this means to passengers looking to have a multi-destination experience. Furthermore, we invite CTO to have a proactive discussion on how we can raise interest in our region to develop new maritime access alternatives and create new maritime routes to the Caribbean, using our Incentive Program as the basis for deploying innovative tactics.”