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  • Lance Fensterman has been promoted to President of Global ReedPOP, the pop culture division of Reed Exhibitions.
  • The Las Vegas City Council votes April 4 on a proposal to build a new $76 million 350,000-sf downtown exhibition center.
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  • The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority announced a 4-year deal for SMG to operate four major Reno-Sparks venues.
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  • Freeman is launching cloud-based digital floorplan management system BlueprintTM in the U.S. to make real-time booking data available.
  • A new CEIR report provides benchmarks for all phases of a marketing campaign and details characteristics for success in growing attendance.
  • Mad Event Management is launching UAS/Drones for Disaster Response April 19-20 in Miami. First responders are the target audience.

Puerto Rico Welcomes Back Trade Show and Exhibitions Business

Jamie Bartosch
, News Editor
August 24, 2018
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Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last August with 155 mph winds, killing more than 1,000 people by the latest accounts, destroying buildings and knocking out power for months in some places.

But the Caribbean island has made an epic recovery and has been welcoming back trade shows, meetings and conventions.

Earlier this month, the convention and visitors’ bureau relaunched as an all-in-one bureau for both business and leisure travel called Discover Puerto Rico ( As the one-year anniversary of the hurricane approaches, CEO Brad Dean says the Caribbean island is “ready, able and eager” to welcome visitors and trade shows back. They’re now working to replace the storm damage images some people now associate with Puerto Rico, replacing them with images of the island’s vibrancy, attractions and impressive new development.

The CVB calls it “one of the greatest comeback stories in tourism,” and is encouraging visitors to be part of their comeback story using the #CoverTheProgress hashtag on social media.

For meetings and trade shows, Puerto Rico’s post-hurricane offerings are better than they were before the hurricane. In 2019, just steps from the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, a new 5-acre hospitality and entertainment district, District LIVE!, will debut.

Built in partnership between Island Hospitality Partners and the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority, it will have an array of restaurants, entertainment and performance venues.

“It will set Puerto Rico apart as a leader in the Caribbean region, and allow trade show attendees to experience the authentic culture and hospitality of the island, only moments from the trade show floor,” said Ed Carey, Chief Sales Officer.

Additionally, there’s been $1.9 billion in new hotel development on the island. Some of the top luxury hotels – including the El Conquistador Resort - a Waldorf Astoria Resort, and The Ritz-Carlton San Juan - have repaired and renovated their hotels, which were damaged in the hurricane. Brand new hotels are opening as well. In all, roughly 1,800 new rooms will be available in the coming months.

In October 2018, 657 new rooms will be available at the Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the El San Juan Hotel Curio Collection by Hilton, and The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. In December, 480 new rooms will be available from the Meliá Coco Beach. And in January 2019, 652 new rooms will be available from the Caribe Hilton.

Meanwhile, the convention center is starting to add shows to the 2019 calendar, including the Association for Academic Physiatrists and Running USA.

The 600,000 square foot Puerto Rico Convention Center, the largest meeting space on the island, did not sustain any significant damage from the hurricane. Following the hurricane, it was used as a command center for the local government, FEMA and the military, as well as a temporary shelter, according to news reports.

There’s one area of Puerto Rico that really captures the message. Humacao, one of the areas hardest hit by the hurricane, wen viral with its “SOS” message written on the street in the weeks after the hurricane. They’ve since replaced that message, with a new one that says “Bienvenidos!” (welcome, in Spanish).

Contact Ed Carey at (787) 925-7361 or

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