The Puerto Rico Tourism Alliance announced on Monday that the public-private partnership (p3) concerning the San Juan’s ports’ management will remain on hold until December 31.
The organization held a meeting with Gov. Wanda Vázquez, in which the government agreed to pause the concession process so that the Tourism Alliance can speak to key components of the sector and present a consensus, which the government will assess when proceeding with the p3.
Nearly two months after Royal Caribbean International (RCI) announced that it will implement “a number of deployment changes and a significant drop of home port cruises of call in San Juan” throughout 2021 and 2022, the government of Puerto Rico is still in the process of negotiating in hopes of deterring an action that would result in a significant drop in the island’s tourism.
After conflicting reports concerning future sailing cancellations and drops
Following RCC’s announcement, at the beginning of December, Gov. Vázquez sent then-Chief of Staff Zoé Laboy, Puerto Rico Tourism Co. (PRTC) Executive Director Carla Campos and Puerto Rico Ports Authority (AP by its Spanish acronym) Executive Director Joel Pizá to the city of Miami, Fla. to attend a meeting with RCI Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain and other high-ranking executives of the cruise line.
THE WEEKLY JOURNAL contacted multiple government agencies to inquire about the outcome of the meeting and how the government will proceed with the p3.
Fermín Fontanés, executive director of the Public-Private Partnership Authority (P3A), said that the government is still in negotiations with RCI, and that no further details can be revealed so as to prevent a fallout in the process.
“At this time we are listening to the input of all parties, including Royal Caribbean, as we have been doing since the [P3] process began. There is still no final contract with the preferred proponent, and in keeping with the request of the governor, we are considering all of that input at the negotiating table,” Fontanés stated a week ago.
RCI responded, saying: “We have not canceled any of our ships’ visits or homeporting in San Juan. Though we have not yet announced our full 2021-2022 deployments, we do expect fewer calls from San Juan for the 2021-2022 season and we will be able to provide more details once we have announced our itineraries. No decisions regarding deployment beyond those dates have yet been made.”
The company made the announcement at a time when the Ports Authority is in the process of passing on control of the San Juan ports’ operations through a P3. Global Ports Holding (GPH) was selected, given its experience in other islands in the Caribbean.
However, according to an insider in the public sector, both RCI and Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) reportedly opposed the P3 because they will be denied the preferential benefits they currently possess and over concerns of increased costs.
“We have significant concerns about the very high capital and loan costs of the privatization project and the subsequent costs being passed onto our customers, and the lack of engagement with Royal Caribbean in any dialogue,” RCI said in a written statement earlier this month.