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Delgado Pitching for Puerto Rico Paradisus To Open In October
Pitching for Puerto Rico
Feb. 1, 2003
Carlos Delgado is on the phone from his native Puerto Rico, where he spends nearly all his time when he is not playing baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I'm trying to help promote Puerto Rico as a tourist destination," he says. "We have to do a better job of marketing the island in Canada. It's important we get the word out."
Canadians flock to the Caribbean, especially to Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, or fly over Puerto Rico on their way to such far-flung islands as Barbados.
But the airport at San Juan seems to have fallen off Canadian radar screens.
From September, 2001, to September, 2002, only 13,562 Canadians checked into hotels in Puerto Rico, compared with 400,000 Canadians who travelled to Cuba in 2001.
"The problem is, we're three times more expensive than Cuba, Mexico or the Dominican Republic," concedes Rosanna Foti, Canadian sales manager for Puerto Rico Tourism, based in Toronto. Puerto Rico is U.S. territory, so everything is in U.S. dollars, Ms. Foti notes. "Accommodations are very expensive, and, right now, there are none of the all-inclusive resorts Canadians like."
So the tourism office has gone the celebrity route, enlisting Delgado -- he of the US$17-million-a-year contract and winning smile -- to sing the praises of his homeland.
"I remember when they used Ricky Martin -- he's Puerto Rican -- in their advertising and he was great," says the photogenic, 30-year-old Delgado. "Anybody who has a good reputation can be a good ambassador for his country."
Delgado grew up in Aguadilla, on the western shore of the island. "It's a small town on the water, but we have mountains too."
He is not inviting fans to visit his house in Aguadilla, where he lives when not playing for the Blue Jays, but he seems to have a grasp of the other attractions that might draw Canadians to the island, besides the cruise ship port and casinos in San Juan.
"We have a rain forest," he says. Called El Yunque, just southeast of San Juan, the lush mountainous preserve is dotted with waterfalls and home to hundreds of species of plants, animals and birds.
"We have phosphorescent bays." La Parguera, on the southwestern part of the island, is a natural wonder, filled with microscopic glow-in-the-dark organisms, such as underwater fireflies.
"But the best thing is, we have good people, good service," says Delgado. "People think Puerto Rico is a Third World country. But it's not."
IF YOU GO:
AREA 9,104 square kilometres, not quite twice the size of P.E.I.
POPULATION About four million; 1.6 million live in the capital, San Juan.
LANGUAGE Officially bilingual -- Spanish and English. Currency U.S. dollar.
HISTORY Claimed by Spain in 1493, after Christopher Columbus landed on his second voyage to the New World. Taken over by the U.S. in 1898, after the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917.
CLIMATE Tropical, averaging 23 degrees Celsius in winter, 29C in summer.
TIME ZONE Atlantic Information 800- 667-0394; www.goto puertorico.com
Paradisus To Open In October
Copyright 2003 Gale Group Inc. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT 2003 Caribbean Update, Inc.
Puerto Rico's first "all-inclusive" resort, the Paradisus Puerto Rico, is scheduled to open in October, said pre-opening operations director Edgar Motta, reports El Nuevo Dia (Dec. 30, 2002). The resort, located in the Coco Beach area of Rio Grande, will include 490 suites distributed in 20 villas. Original plans called for a 1999 opening, but changes in design and of the contractor delayed the start of construction to 2000. The project is now 60% complete, Motta said.