Governor Wanda Vázquez instructed the Port Authority and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company to maintain an open dialogue with the cruise operator companies after the cancellation of dozens of Royal Caribbean company cruises for the 2020-2021 season.
“The Government has always had the doors open to listen to suggestions from the entire industry. That continues to be my mandate. We are surprised by this notification without any reason, and with a valid contract. Nevertheless, in relation to the partnerships of cruise ship docks, the integrity of the processes must be safeguarded in accordance with Law 29-2009. However, we are confident in the weight of the historical relationship of the cruise industry with Puerto Rico and that our objectives are compatible, the growth beneficial to all parties, and that we will continue to collaborate and work tirelessly for the best interests of Puerto Rico," said Gov. Vázquez.
Gov. Vázquez denied information about alleged meetings between executives of Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise in which they asked the local government to stop the privatization of the docks because they were willing to invest to repair it.
“The Government of Puerto Rico, through the Authority for Public-Private Partnerships (P3 Authority) has carried out a transparent and comprehensive process in the evaluation of the future concession for cruise ship docks in the Bay of San Juan. The goal has been to advance the best interests of the People of Puerto Rico, get a multi-million dollar investment to repair, improve and expand cruise ship docks and terminals, improve the operations and experience of the tourists that come to our terminals, and continue to expand the economy of tourism in Puerto Rico,“ said Fermin Fontanés, Executive Director of the P3 Authority.
Fontanés added that “the process of evaluation and selection of the partnerships is one established by law since 2009, with specific criteria and safeguards of neatness and transparency, as well as confidentiality while the process is negotiated precisely to avoid collusion, undue influences and manipulation of process."
"To date, this process has been followed in accordance with Law 29-2009 but has not been completed, so there is no contract awarded. Therefore, any information that third parties provide to the media or networks is speculative and can be directed to manipulate the process, since they have not otherwise achieved it. Therefore, the Government urges to exercise caution on the rumors about this and other partnerships. Information that is official, can only be offered by the P3 Authority or the Port Authority as the owner of the assets subject to the transaction," he added.
Fontanés informed to the local media that the process of awarding the contract concludes on or before the end of the year 2019, year on which the selected proponent would be announced.
Meanwhile, the Port Authority Interim Executive Director, José Roa, confirmed that Royal Caribbean and the Port Authority maintain certain contractual relationships that establish the framework for the cancellation processes, the benefits that the Government of Puerto Rico provides to Royal Caribbean, which are the minimum volume that Royal Caribbean promised to bring to Puerto Rico in return of such benefits, among others.
"Based on this notification, a communication will be sent to investigate the reason for cancellations,” he added.
“On the other hand, it is general knowledge that the dock infrastructure in Puerto Rico is very compromised and that the fiscal situation of the Port Authority does not allow the investment required to resolve this challenge. For that reason, we have moved towards seeking private investment that would make these improvements and that will undoubtedly result in a benefit for tourism in Puerto Rico by attracting new cruise lines that haven’t yet considered the Island or have not been able to arrive due to lack of space at the docks,” Fontanés concluded.
On the other hand, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), responsible for commercial management with the cruise lines, "has served as a facilitator in the growth of the cruise industry in Puerto Rico and has participated and encouraged several meetings with the cruise lines, through the Florida and Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), where both APPR and the P3 Authority have been able to answer questions to the FCCA and its members about future plans, partnership goals and its processes."
The PRTC Director, Carla Campos, confirmed that “performance indicators show that Puerto Rico continues to be an important and profitable cruise destination."
"The Government seeks to expand our offerings and further improve our attractiveness as a destination, for the benefit of Puerto Rico and all industry participants, including cruise lines,” Campos added.