Este informe no está disponible en español.
San Juan Mayoral Candidates Present Their Tourism Platforms
PRHTA Decision 2000 luncheon series has the three candidates speak on their plans separately
by EVELYN GUADALUPE-FAJARDO
July 27, 2000
The three candidates for mayor of San Juan have promised to put tourism on the top of their economic development agenda.
Popular Democratic Party candidate Eduardo Bhatia; Jorge Santini, New Progressive Party candidate; and Vance Thomas of the Puerto Rico Independent Party spoke separately before the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Associations (PRHTA) monthly luncheon "Decision 2000" series to discuss their plans, if elected.
Here is what the candidates, in order of their appearance before PRHTA membership, had to say about the islands tourism industry.
Bhatia pledges continuity of multi-million dollar infrastructure investments
"It is imperative for the Mayor of San Juan to coordinate tourism efforts with the central government. For the past few years, this has been difficult, but it is crucial for the growth of tourism in San Juan that this coordination take place."
Sen. Eduardo Bhatia, Popular Democratic Party candidate for mayor of San Juan, believes tourism is an essential element for the economic prosperity of the city.
"Tourism accounts for a considerable part of the economy and jobs in San Juan," said Bhatia on May 18 during the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Associations (PRHTA) monthly luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel & Casino.
Of the islands 11,800 hotel rooms, San Juan accounts for 3,600 rooms. In 1999, hotel registrations in San Juan were 517,000 of the islands 1.6 million.
If elected, Bhatia pledged to continue multi-million dollar infrastructure investment in the city. He also said that San Juan must improve its existing facilities to attract world-class events.
"I plan to engage in an aggressive campaign to promote San Juan as a site for international events," Bhatia said.
In addition, Bhatia promised to foster positive coordination between the city of San Juan and the central government.
"It is imperative for the Mayor of San Juan to coordinate tourism efforts with the central government," Bhatia said. "For the past few years this has been difficult, but it is crucial for the growth of tourism in San Juan that this coordination take place.
Other pledges made by Bhatia included fostering partnerships with the private sector, promoting San Juan outside of Puerto Rico, facilitating the expedition of municipal permits and regulations, expanding the municipal police force, expanding the tourism curriculum at the Colegio Tecnologico, and creating a bachelors degree in tourism and hotel management.
Also, Bhatia said he promised to support all initiatives making the port of San Juan more competitive in light of new and bigger ships entering the market and to support the creation of a tourism advisory board to determine and establish policies relevant to this industry.
Santini promises to keep San Juan safe, clean and attractive
"I commit to you that as mayor I will immediately create several advisory boards to address the issues that concern us as citizens. One of my key advisory boards will focus on tourism issues and will include representation from this association (PRHTA), the Convention Bureau, residents and commercial associations in tourist areas, and industry leaders."
Jorge Santini, New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate for mayor of San Juan, promised that, if elected, tourism would be foremost on his economic development platform.
To achieve that goal, Santini proposes initiatives such as keeping San Juan safe, clean, attractive, and unique in order to help attract new business opportunities and residents.
"I commit to you that as mayor I will immediately create several advisory boards to address the issues that concern us as citizens," Santini said on June 15 at the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Associations monthly luncheon at the Caribe Hilton. "One of my key advisory boards will focus on tourism issues and will include representation from this Association, the Convention Bureau, residents and commercial associations in tourist areas, and industry leaders."
Santini also reiterated that he is no stranger to the tourism industry.
"I have been on the forefront of proposing an amendment to the legislation creating the Americas World Trade District, to include a representative from this Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the City of San Juan," Santini said.
Some of Santinis safety plans include to strengthen, train, and better equip the San Juan Municipal Police, to create a fully bilingual tourist-zone police unit that is properly trained to enhance visitors experiences, to build a headquarter for this special unit, to create a rapid-response emergency unit, and to provide adequate lighting in all tourist zones.
For cleanliness, Santini suggests improving coordination and execution of trash pick-up and disposal, implementing an educational campaign promoting a clean city, acquiring trash containers and equipment to rinse the streets, implementing a humanitarian and systematic program to sterilize and remove stray animals, and providing adequate maintenance to the municipal sewage system.
Other initiatives include implementing an aggressive program to treat, rehabilitate, and reintegrate the homeless; coordinating and promoting a program permitting access to tourist transportation; promoting the "Blue Flag" program for the beaches; supporting Tourism Co.s clean-beach program; implementing an incentives program for communities to improve, paint, and remodel building and residence facades; and creating, in conjunction with the private sector, a website called Portal de San Juan.
Thomas focuses on resolving Old San Juans homeless problem
"It is impressive how the government always manages to find funds for projects such as the Coliseum, but the government has not developed a program to deal with the homeless. For me, the fate of these homeless people is more important than how many people go to a coliseum."
Vance Thomas, Puerto Rico Independent Party (PIP) mayoral candidate for San Juan, says the new city mayor should focus on basic elements to promote the islands tourism industry.
Some of these include keeping beaches clean, eliminating parking problems in the Old City, improving infrastructure, and providing shelters and other services to the homeless.
Thomas was the last of the three political candidates running for mayor of San Juan to address the members of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA) at one of their monthly luncheons.
Thomas ideas to promote tourism are similar to those of his political counterparts, except for his notable insistence on the importance of resolving the problems of the homeless, especially those roaming through Old San Juan.
"It is impressive how the government always manages to find funds for and develops projects such as the Coliseum, but the government has not come up with or developed a center or a program to deal with the homeless," Vance said. "For me, the fate of these homeless people is more important than how many people go to a coliseum."
Thomas platform includes constructing a residential complex for the homeless where they would get services according to their needs.
He would also create zones in the Old City where cars would not be allowed to transit.
As far as traffic problems, Thomas says traffic flow regulation must be created to ban the traffic from residential streets. He also proposed that above ground parking lots be built on the periphery of Old San Juan.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.