SAN JUAN – Nestor Alonso Vega, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Tourism and Social Welfare Committee, said on Wednesday that Puerto Rico’s tourism industry would rebound during the first two quarters of 2018, recovering from a devastating hurricane season.
The industry will get a boost from the planned reopening in April of the El Conquistador Hotel, a property that has 750 rooms and is undergoing restoration after being hammered by Hurricane Maria last September, Alonso Vega said in a statement.
“Since September, tourist activity has been in a semi-pause, but that is going to change in 2018. There is no doubt that as Puerto Rico’s image as an island devastated by Hurricane Maria changes to that of a vibrant one, with new energy and full of historic sites, the tourists will return,” the lawmaker said.
The reopening of the El Conquistador Hotel and other well-known properties will be accompanied by an advertising campaign in the US and Europe to lure tourists, Alonso Vega said.
The hotels’ reopening should create up to 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in Puerto Rico next year, the lawmaker said.
“That is why we expect 2018 to be a very good year for tourism in general,” said Alonso Vega, a member of the New Progressive Party.
The tourism industry was one of the sectors most affected by Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Sept. 20.
The powerful storm caused extensive property damage and destroyed the Caribbean island’s electric grid.