Ingrid Rivera, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, told Travel Agent Tuesday morning that neither clients nor agents should worry about Puerto Rico's $5.4 billion debt disrupting tourism anytime soon.
According to Bloomberg Business, Puerto Rico faces $5.4 billion of bond payments over the next 12 months, showing the pressure on the Caribbean island as it moves closer toward defaulting on its debt.
"You don't choose to go to a place because of debt or no debt. You go because it has beauty, it has gastronomy, because it has luxury and that's what Puerto Rico continues to deliver," Ingrid told Travel Agent during a phone interview. "So, yes, Puerto Rico is open for business."
Once Travel Agent got the tough question out of the way, Rivera told us all about Puerto Rico's recent success as well as some of the destination's hottest news.
Here are the highlights:
Puerto Rico's cruise passengers increased by 26.1 percent when comparing the fiscal year from 2013-2014 with the 2014-2015 fiscal year. This year, the destination has had more than nine high-volume cruise dates, receiving between 15,000-18,000 passengers in a single transit day.
In June alone, compared to the same time period last year, cruise passengers rose from 1.2 million passengers to 1.5 million, representing an increase of 22 percent.
San Juan is the second largest port in the Western Hemisphere. Every year, 1.5 million passengers arrive at Puerto Rico’s shores. Cruise lines serving Puerto Rico include Carnival, Celebrity, Disney Cruises and Royal Caribbean International, among others. Two additional cruise ports are located in the cities of Mayaguez and Ponce.
|Photo by Freeimages.com/Fred Epner|
Rivera told Travel Agent plans on still on track for Puerto Rico's first Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts property and first JW Marriott hotel. Rivera told us plans haven't changed since we first broke the news in October. JW Marriott is expected to be open by 2016 while the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts property is about two to three years away from opening.
Air arrivals are expected to rise dramatically this fiscal year versus last year. There were 7.9 million air passengers at the end of last year's fiscal calendar. There have currently been 8.7 million passengers this year and Rivera expects that number to increase to more than nine million passengers by December.