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Tourism Industry Remains A Vital Sector Of Puerto Rico’s Economy

Seven Hotel Projects To Open By Year’s End At $206.5 Million Investment


October 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The tourism industry is critical to the government’s efforts to advance Puerto Rico’s economy, Economic Development & Commerce Secretary Milton Segarra told a roomful of local hoteliers at the Caribe Hilton last Thursday.

Segarra said there have been 22 hotel projects completed since 2001, requiring an investment of about $250 million and generating 1,410 jobs and 1,473 hotel rooms.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Co. indicates seven properties should open by the end of 2003, representing an investment of $206.5 million and generating 803 jobs during construction and 772 jobs once operational. The properties are in Carolina (the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport Hotel), Rio Grande (Paradisus Puerto Rico), San Juan (Promenada Plaza and Vendign 2), Culebra (Costa Bonita), Caguas (Caguas Hampton Inn), and Santa Isabel (Hacienda Santa Isabel.

Construction on another five projects is underway to begin: the Condado Duo (formerly the Condado Trio), the Condado Lagoon Villa at the Caribe Hilton, and the former Carib-Inn (soon to be a Holiday Inn), all in San Juan; the Fairmont Coco Beach Resort in Rio Grande; and Las Casitas II at El Conquistador in Fajardo.

The Tourism Co.’s projections for hotel occupancy are optimistic. "Our numbers are promising, and we have seen strengthening in all indicators of tourism activity in the past fiscal year," Segarra said.

The occupancy rate jumped from 61.7% in fiscal year (FY) 2002 to 64.9% in FY 2003. Occupancy in July was 85.7%, representing an increase of 8.3 percentage points over the same month in 2002.

Economy on the right track

Segarra said the U.S. mainland is showing signs of economic improvement. Given the close relationship between the stateside and Puerto Rico economies, those signs bode well for the local economy.

"It’s no secret that most of the U.S. mainland is facing fiscal deficits and that Puerto Rico’s economy was affected by the high oil prices," Segarra said. "However, several monthly indicators reflect that the local economy has been recovering at a slow but consistent pace."

For example, employment grew by 3.5% during FY 2003 to 1.2 million jobs, representing a gain of 41,200 jobs from FY 2002. The manufacturing sector saw significant job gains in July 2003, increasing by 4.4% over July 2002. Total exports and imports grew by 17% and 16%, respectively, during FY 2003.

"The fact that the number of construction permits issued grew by 5.6% in FY 2003 indicates the economy could experience a healthy recovery soon. Permits for private and public construction increased by 2.7% and 88.1%, respectively, in FY 2003," Segarra said. "What’s more, retail sales grew by 7.8% in July, one of the highest rates in the past couple of years."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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