The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association is going ahead with their annual conference set to take in Puerto Rico next year. The Caribbean Travel Marketplace, a yearly meetup for hospitality groups and hoteliers to discuss the future of tourism in the Caribbean, is set for Jan. 30–Feb. 1, 2018. The event was at risk for cancellation after Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused widespread destruction on the island, but organizers are hopeful the territory will be ready to host this year’s gathering citing improving recovery, said the head director of the association.
“We had plans to go to Puerto Rico before the hurricane, but we went there to assess very carefully with our public and private sectors and our host committee there to see if the destination was ready from the point of view we wanted,” said Frank Comito.
Much of the island was badly hit, but San Juan’s Convention Center, where the event will be held, is fully functioning and ready to host the 1200 guest expected to attend the meeting, according to Comito.
“That facility has remained unimpacted by the storm, and in fact it was temporarily a command center and shelter for residents before phasing out,” he said. “But by the end of the year, we know things will go back to normal and it will go back to being used as a venue.”
He says that the organization is happy to move on with the largest tourism marketing events for Caribbean, to showcase the island and its neighbors are prepared to rebuild.
“We are thrilled at that actually — we think this is a great opportunity not only for Puerto Rico and the world to show that the Caribbean is incredibly resilient,” he added.
And as area hotels expecting to see an increase in reservations were also unaffected by the storm, and even though power is scattered throughout many parts of the island, he said as recovery improves, the island will be ready by the time the conference comes around.
“We are seeing that progress every day. Our surrounding hotels will all be operating by the end of year, and we are confident they will continue to make progress,” said Comito.