At the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria, Tourism leaders call to highlight achievements and recovery of the island

Local tourism entities and members of the community invite travelers to be part of the Island’s recovery history

August 20, 2018 – Given the proximity of the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria passing through Puerto Rico and the attention that images of devastation will have again, the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Discover Puerto Rico, announced  today an initiative that invites visitors, as well as local and international media to join to share and review images of the recovery of the Island.

According to Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean, six months after Hurricane Maria, more than 50% of travelers said that the negative news coverage influenced their vision of Puerto Rico as a tourist destination. Dean also explained that local members of the tourism industry and the community created a space on social networks under the hashtag #CoverTheProgress, urging all audiences to share their experiences on the recovery of Puerto Rico.

“We want to change the negative view about the condition of the Island as the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria approaches. Puerto Rico is open to tourism since last December and the local tourism industry has worked hard over the past year to achieve a solid recovery. We have a lot to celebrate and we do not want the first anniversary to throw all this work behind us”, Dean said. “We are clear that there are still some remote areas of the island in the process of recovery, but we are asking that we celebrate the achievements of industry and communities to enhance the vitality of our Island as a tourist destination. It is essential that milestones be shared from the local industry and the communities that have worked hard to achieve them. We are taking advantage of this moment to invite all the public to help us highlight the recovery of tourism because it contributes vitally to the recovery of our economy”, he stressed.

He pointed out that in order to document the progress of the recovery, Discover Puerto Rico made a video of the Punta Santiago community in Humacao; one of the most devastated sectors of the Island. This community became known worldwide for a viral image, where they asked for help with the letters “S.O.S”. When documenting the recovery, the community, together with the local industry of the area, recreated the aerial image of how they are today, in the hope that it will also become viral. This time the message reads “Welcome #CoverTheProgress”.

Janet González, resident of the Humacao’s community, indicated that “being completely isolated on the island, we couldn’t imagine how far our image had come, and we are grateful for that scope. But now, we are ready to turn the page. They asked us what message we wanted to share now, and we hope that the Welcomemessage will also go viral”, she said.

According to Dean, the resilient spirit of the local community, together with the positive reactions of travelers who have recently visited the island, were what inspired this initiative. Tourism, ultimately, benefits everyone on the Island and sharing the positive achievements made within the tourism industry is crucial to continue attracting travelers. Therefore, due to Discover Puerto Rico’s responsibility, an effort has been made in international media to share these images and CNN, which reported on the community of Humacao and its message asking for help, closes the circle of this story and gives way to the images with the new message written by the community of Punta Santiago.

Dean said that there will be a second phase of this project – which will be announced later – that will once again highlight the resilience and recovery of this Puerto Rican community.

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