Puerto Rico Rises: Tourism

Puerto Rico Rises: Part 4, Tourism (December 27, 2017)

It's two-and-a-half-months after Hurricane Maria.

Cruise ships have started to arrive in port, in Puerto Rico. This is one of the messages that the government wants to get across--that Puerto Rico is open for business.

"I think it's great that the ships are coming back in," said one tourist named Linda. "Because if there's one thing that Puerto Rico needs, it's tourism coming back."

Despite the good intentions of tourists like Linda, businesses near the seaport are struggling to keep their doors open, and some still haven't opened them at all.

"One restaurant just opened up a week ago," explained a bartender at a nearby restaurant. "All of the restaurants around here--I work in two of them--and the ships are different now. It's hit-or-miss. Most of the time, we're not even opening in the evenings--but this restaurant's not opening in the evenings until tourism picks up. On a day like today, we would be full. Completely, especially with cruise ships coming in, but there's nothing. So, we're going to go ahead and close up right now."

So how big of a percentage is tourism when look at Puerto Rico's economy? It depends on who you ask. 

"Rough estimates have it at between 7 and 15 percent," said Jose Izquierdo, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

"I think the sector is going to tell the story of resurgence, the rebirth of our economy, and have tourism be a driver of change...economic development," explained Izquierdo. "Right now, really, all of the indicators are positive in terms of us being able to rebound from this."

In the meantime, tourists will continue to visit Puerto Rico.

"I think the best thing we can do is not to shut down, but to keep continuing to support them," said Linda. "And that's what it is, it's a little support. Maybe we're not going to have that five-star hotel until they've renovated. It's gonna be a four-star, but you'll still have a wonderful experience because Puerto Rico, overall, is wonderful."

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