According to the Washington Post while much work remains, especially in residential areas, Puerto Rico has made great strides toward full recovery in all categories of travel. On December 14, more than a year after the hurricane, El San Juan Hotel will swing open its double doors, ushering in guests and the soft Caribbean breeze. In total 135 hotels — about 75 percent of the lodging stock — are accepting reservations.
By mid-2019, room availability will rise from 11,000 rooms to more than 15,000. Several properties are in the final stages of renovations, including
A few are brand-new to the scene, such as
And two — a JW Marriott in Dorado and the Dreams Resort and Spa in Guanica — are in the pre-construction phase.
Opening dates range from this month to 2020.
Short-term rentals of the Airbnb kind have increased from 7,700 to 8,700. Since eating and playing are as essential as sleeping and showering, travelers can choose among 4,000 restaurants (including 1,885 in San Juan), 190 attractions, 16 casinos and 13 golf courses. And, finally, the nearly 250 beaches along the 272-mile coastline are back to model form, with pearly white sand and baby blue water.
Daily air service has increased from 20 flights two weeks after the hurricane to 110 to 130 flights on 28 airlines. JetBlue returned to pre-Maria frequency in June, six months ahead of schedule.
For cruise ships, the San Juan port opened less than three weeks after the storm; the southern terminal in Ponce started receiving vessels last December. This season, two dozen ships will use the island as their home port, four more than last year. All of this sea activity could set a record: Tourism officials are expecting 1.7 million passengers for the 2018-2019 season, which would surpass the previous bar of 1.5 million cruisers in 2015-2016.
Next year, one of the island’s most anticipated attractions will shake up the Convention District, near Old San Juan. District San Juan will pack an array of entertainment options — urban zip lines, performance venues, hotels, restaurants, bars and a day-night disco — into a five-acre space. Dean described the complex as “L.A. Live! with a Latin feel.”
“A kind of exciting time has come out of the terrible devastation of Hurricane Maria,” he said.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.