Dean notes there are a multitude of factors that tour operators, cruise lines and airlines should evaluate prior to returning to destinations, going well beyond the regulations at play from the organizations that dictate much of what these entities can do and should be mindful of, like the CDC, CLIA, FAA and others.
“Ultimately, a strong Destination Marketing Organization will provide these entities with a thorough understanding of the realities of returning to a destination,” he says. “In Discover Puerto Rico’s case, our work to ensure the island was set up for a strong recovery began in tandem with the virus’ spread. We know from experience that robust planning is needed to lay a solid foundation for recovery. Private sector partners also play a role in helping with the destination’s readiness to welcome visitors back. Alongside our local government, we acted quickly to contain the virus and remain vigilant as we seek to reopen, for the safety and security of residents, visitors and the entities – including tour operators, cruises and airlines – that we value.”
In order to ensure they aren’t having a negative impact on the places they visit, he says travellers should stay up to date with guidelines implemented by destinations they intend to visit, and adhere to them, accordingly.
“Puerto Rico’s, at present, include social distancing, and mandatory face coverings in public areas, as well as reduced capacities and high standards of cleanliness island-wide,” he says. “Given that Puerto Rico is currently encouraging only essential travel to safeguard the health of both residents and visitors – and according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), activities such as sightseeing, recreation, or attending cultural events, are not considered essential – it is important to uphold these measures, to avoid a negative impact.”
Overall, he enforces that those travelling adhere to the restrictions being implemented by the destination where they are travelling – be it the need for a negative test to enter, mandatory quarantine, or requirements once on the ground.
Looking towards the future, he says Discover Puerto Rico is committed to leading the Island’s tourism recovery.
“We began working on the COVID recovery plan at the onset of the virus, and have taken learnings from past adversity and applied them to our robust crisis preparedness plan which was already in place before COVID-19,” he says.