SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico is participating in the Monaco Yacht Show this week, taking its Caribbean flair to the French Riviera to demonstrate why it is an ideal destination for yachters worldwide. The island’s four marinas, yachting maintenance facilities, luxury attractions and natural beauty are among the highlights.
“We are promoting our well-recognized yachting industry as an opportunity to put Puerto Rico on the map in a key growth market,” said Alberto Baco-Bague, Secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce. “Yachting is a critical part of our five-year economic plan to support local growth and we are investing in the industry and other infrastructure to support international yachters.”
While 20 of the world’s largest mega yachts already visit the island each year, Puerto Rico is planning to grow its mega yachting industry from $3.6 million annually to more than $100 million in just five years. In addition to competitive port fees and berthing costs, Puerto Rico is the only region in the Caribbean with capacity to dock alongside and offers convenient and accommodating marinas. Puerto Rico’s unique jurisdiction also means there are no passport requirements for those traveling from the mainland United States.
Earlier this year, the Encanto Group announced an investment of $200 million to develop a world-class beach and marina community on the island’s east coast. The Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar is a state of the art mega-yacht marina located within a complete resort community just 45 miles from San Juan. The Yacht Club is a short boat ride from the world-class beaches of Vieques (15 miles) and Culebra (25 miles) and when complete, will offer 158 boat slips, including 40 designed for yachts up to 175 feet and a 30,000 square foot business and entertainment facility. The project is also expected to generate about 400 jobs.
Further evidence of high-end luxury attractions, The Yacht Club, Palmas del Mar, includes two 18-hole championship golf courses designed, respectively, by Reese Jones and Gary Player; the largest tennis facility in the Caribbean; an equestrian center with miles of adjacent riding trails, beaches, pools, restaurants, a private school, nearby hospitals, and full-service shopping; among other amenities.
Puerto Rico Tourism on Rise
Tourism is one of several key sectors that the Government of Puerto Rico has targeted as a growth opportunity to jump-start the island’s economy. The sector has remained strong throughout the recent recession and is on a growth trajectory, aided by new hotels, an increase in cruise ship passengers and increased air access and nonstop airline service from the U.S., Madrid and South America.
“Our investments will offer yachters and tourists a unique experience compared to any other Caribbean island,” said Marimar Lidin, Director of Puerto Rico’s Tourism Company in Spain. “Tourism contributes significantly to our gross national product and yachting is one of the leading niche markets in the industry. Puerto Rico’s unparalleled access to beaches, entertainment, culture, cuisine, nature, and nightlife make the island an ideal place for international tourists and yachters.”
Earlier this year, Seaborne Airlines announced more than 2,500 monthly flights to/from Puerto Rico and recently consolidated its operations center on the island, adding 400 jobs. Further, cruise ship passengers arriving at the port of San Juan increased by 28 percent this summer, and the number of cruise ships that docked in the city represents a 41 percent increase. Just last week, Nicholas Prouty, CEO of Putnam Bridge, announced a $100 million construction project, which adds to a growing list of upscale property deals that totals over $1 billion in investment.
“Puerto Rico is an island unique to any other in the Caribbean, and offers the opportunity for visitors to enjoy one of the oldest cities in the Western hemisphere: Old San Juan,” added Lidin. “No other place can compete with the Spanish Virgin Islands, the bioluminescent bay of Vieques, the rare El Yunque rainforest, and of course, Puerto Rican rum.”
Puerto Rico as a Place to Live and Do Business
Puerto Rico’s well-established tourism industry is strong and getting stronger, but it is just one element of the Department’s comprehensive growth strategy. The Department of Economic Development and Commerce is strategically encouraging international investment in knowledge services, insurance, finance, and other industries by leveraging the unique benefits of its jurisdiction and incentives offered under Act 20 and Act 22.
This year alone, more than 400 companies have applied to establish operations in Puerto Rico through Act 20, which offers tax incentives to service-based organizations that offer services for clients off the island. As of July, 200 people have applied for Act 22, which offers tax incentives to individuals who establish residence on the island.