Clarisa Jiménez, president and CEO of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA), said that tourism members are ready for the staggered openings announced by the government, and are ready to implement the necessary precautionary measures.
"Since we are aware that there will be a staggered reopening by the government for economic activities, we are ready to contribute to making it safe and reinforcing all meritorious aspects to ensure the safety and health of our employees, visitors and the local consumer," Jiménez said.
"Tourism in Puerto Rico is an activity that generates billions to the economy, so it is necessary to start to boost it by phases always reinforcing the necessary security measures to ensure the health of all in face of the pandemic.”
She emphasized that the PRHTA created a compilation of best prevention and cleanliness practices for COVID-19 from several organizations worldwide such as the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, OSHA and renowned worldwide hotel brands, among others. In addition, the manual created by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company for the situation will support the management of each of the businesses to begin reopening the sector.
"It is important to note that according to Discover Puerto Rico, tourism activity in 2017 represented a contribution of almost about $7.8 billion to our economy, which means 6%-7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and creates about 80,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs", Jiménez detailed. "We took a step forward when the curfew and shutdown were implemented as a pandemic prevention. Now it is time to do so again by creating those staggered opening guides to start moving tourist activity."
She mentioned that several hotels never closed their doors and currently operate with occupancy rates ranging from 4 to 6 percent, forcing them to have a reduced workforce. On the other hand, vital members of the island’s economic activity in tourism, such as casinos, beaches, marinas and golf courses, among other tourist operations, have completely closed to comply with the respective Executive Orders enacted. All these tourist companies have prepared in these past two months to operate with our new reality complying with the established protocols.
"Puerto Rico continues to be the destination in the Caribbean with the highest seating capacity on flights and we must capitalize on this. We must join the various Caribbean destinations that are already seeing a reopening next month such as: St. Lucia, Bahamas and Aruba, among others. We are also in time to rescue the summer season for internal tourism that is so important to the market, always being emphatic about the necessary measures and following the protocols established for the safety of all," she said.
"Our hotel partners, casinos and other members of the tourist activity comply with the strictest cleaning and hygiene rules, and these protocols have been further elevated by recent events," Jiménez said