Puerto Rico Makes Push for Tourism

By 1997, New York Times News Service | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 12, 1997 | Go to article overview

Puerto Rico Makes Push for Tourism


1997, New York Times News Service, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


TOURISM has long been important to Puerto Rico's economy, but it has never been more vital or had as much of a priority as it does now. Determined to attract even more than last year's 4.1 million tourists, including almost 2.3 million Americans, the island is adding thousands of hotel rooms, sprucing up the airport and cleaning beaches that Puerto Rican officials boast are now among the most spotless in the Caribbean.

A major reason for the makeover is that tourism is widely viewed as the fastest way to create thousands of jobs, a matter of great importance on an island where unemployment among its 3.7 million people averages about 14 percent and where tourism contributes 6 percent of the commonwealth's $28.4 billion gross national product. Moreover, a bill that President Clinton signed in August raising the minimum wage called for phasing out over 10 years assorted tax breaks for U.S. companies operating in Puerto Rico.

In anticipation of an end to the tax breaks, Puerto Rico adopted a series of measures beginning in 1993 that were designed to double tourism revenues by the year 2003. It also embarked on an ambitious private-public alliance that has politicians and investors euphoric - and has some financial analysts holding their breath. …

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