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PRHTA seeks amendment to Puerto Rico’s Electoral Law

Believes Tourism Co. shouldn’t be forced to interrupt advertising efforts for an election year


April 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association (PRHTA) wants the Legislature to approve an amendment to the island’s Electoral Law so the Tourism Co. wouldn’t have to interrupt its advertising & marketing efforts on the U.S. mainland or in international markets during an election year.

Rep. Sylvia Rodriguez Corujo, chairwoman of the House tourism committee, presented House Bill 3320 in December 2002 to amend the Electoral Law of 1977. The law prohibits Puerto Rico’s government agencies and legislative and judicial branches from advertising their programs, projects, achievements, projections, or plans in the public media from Jan. 1 of an election year until the day of the election. The exception, approved by the State Elections Commission (SEC), is if the advertisement is used solely for the purpose of broadcasting information of public interest, public urgency, or public emergency.

The Tourism Co. thus is barred from transmitting its advertising messages and other efforts to promote Puerto Rico as a tourist destination during most of an election year. Industry members say this lack of continuity hurts the island’s competitiveness as a tourist destination.

Rick Newman, president of the PRHTA, pointed out that the SEC requires the Tourism Co. to submit its promotional and marketing programs, especially those broadcast outside of Puerto Rico, so the SEC can determine if they contain any political implications. "This type of interruption has caused a number of problems in the past, such as delays in implementing effective marketing programs and costly changes to the island’s advertising campaign messages," he said.

Newman pointed to when the SEC opposed the campaign tagline "Puerto Rico, USA" of the Rossello administration. "The SEC saw it as being political, and we [industry members] saw it as an important message to potential visitors that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S.," he said. "Tourism is a highly competitive business, and our competitors take advantage of those moments when we are absent from the media."

During a round-table discussion with the local media last week, the PRHTA also announced it wants the Puerto Rico government to keep track of short-term rentals, a.k.a. vacation rentals, on the island and to enact laws obligating these properties to charge room tax, as local hotels are forced to do." The government must audit these vacation rental properties and require them to have insurance for security purposes," Newman said.

The PRHTA also seeks legislation to give tax incentives to local and foreign companies operating or leasing boats for group outings as well as to promote the destination to boating enthusiasts through travel wholesalers and in specialized publications. In July 2002, Rep. Corujo filed House Bill 4567 to study the island’s nautical tourism sector, which includes excursions by sailboats, yachts, and motorboats to neighboring islands.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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