Published on : Thursday, November 19, 2020
Due to the limitations imposed on the tourism industry brought about by the restrictions imposed by the new executive order for curbing the corona virus, the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association (PRHTA) anticipates another dramatic drop in reservations and more job losses in the sector.
Last Friday, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez once again banned recreational beach activities limiting casinos and swimming pools to 30 percent of their total occupation after the P.R. Department of Health witnessed a spike in COVID-19 cases. PRHTA President-elect Joaquín Bolívar III insisted that these limitations are illogical, making it impossible for this economic sector to get better.
“We don’t understand the reasoning behind the restrictions they place on us. In the hotels, there have been no outbreaks or sick employees. We have extreme health protocols. The limitations of the facilities prevent hotels from having a recovery,” Bolívar said.
Till now, the hotel industry is 80 percent below the business volume recorded during the same period last year. “Just when we were registering a slight improvement, they limit us again. It wasn’t that we were doing well—because no hotel is making money—but there was some money flowing in on the weekends and we had started hiring employees again,” Bolívar said.
The peak season for local tourism is usually during the months of November to March.
“There is no projection of high season this year. This will be a very sad period. We had started hiring again and they are people who, unfortunately, in the middle of Christmas, will be unemployed again. Even sadder is that the additional federal benefits for these people have already ended. It is a very sad scene,” Bolívar stated.
Tourism activity in Puerto Rico represents more than 80,000 direct and indirect jobs, of which around 80 percent have been laid off or done with unpaid leave.