NEW YORK – A unique partnership was officially formed Oct. 23 at New York City's Museo del Barrio, where NYC & Company, the city’s official destination marketing organization, and Discover Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico’s newly established destination marketing organization, signed an agreement aimed at boosting tourism between The Big Apple and the island.
The announcement and signing was hosted by Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has used his fame to draw attention to Puerto Rico's needs, and will be bringing his hit musical "Hamilton" to San Juan for a three-week run next year.
The one-year alliance, the first-ever city-to-island partnership, includes the exchange of marketing assets to boost reciprocal travel, the sharing of best practices in tourism marketing and continued support of Puerto Rico’s successful recovery following Hurricane Maria. NYC & Company board of directors vice chairman Charles Flateman and Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean signed the agreement.
“As Puerto Rico continues its recovery, NYC & Company is pleased to do its part to further encourage visitation from New York City to Puerto Rico,” said Flateman. “Now more than ever, we need to support and celebrate the island while also creating economic impact for the destination.” Noting the two destinations share "so much" in common, Flatemen said NYC & Company is "determined" to stand together with Puerto Rico to promote tourism.
“Our partnership with NYC & Company is unprecedented and will help take our strategic tourism efforts to the next level,” said Dean. “We are working aggressively to elevate Puerto Rico’s brand and make it visible to the world as a premier travel destination. Puerto Rico is open for business and eager to share its rich and diverse culture with visitors.”
Dean said New York City and Puerto Rico "share a bond of resiliency" in the wake of "unimaginable circumstances." For example, Puerto Rico has 132 hotels open now and four historic hotels are scheduled to reopen in the coming months, he added. Puerto Rico’s hotel sector, particularly near the airport and San Juan, has fared better than expected by some estimations, and according to Steve Smith, managing director, CBRE Hotels, it remains an active process.
As part of the one-year agreement, New York City and Puerto Rico will share best practices in tourism marketing and management to increase visitation in the year ahead. The city-to-island partnership includes a swap of marketing and advertising assets, valued at $300,800. New York City campaign advertisements will be featured on select billboards throughout San Juan beginning Nov. 19, for three months. Puerto Rico advertisements will appear on bus stop shelters and LinkNYC screens across NYC's five boroughs from Nov. 19 through Jan. 13.
The campaign will encourage Puerto Ricans to visit Gotham with the tagline “Famous Original, New York City. Always here for you,” or “Famous Original, New York City. ¡Siempre aquí para ti!” New York City is promoting visits for the upcoming holiday season and into next year as NYC & Company’s “2019: A Monumental Year” messaging unfolds.
Puerto Rico, in turn, is encouraging New Yorkers to visit the island for the holiday season, promoting the traditional Three Kings' Day celebration and the San Sebastian street festival. The new campaign features images from San Juan and other areas.
Miranda called the partnership “deeply personal” as it bridges his family's homeland and his own hometown. “As a first-generation New Yorker with parents from Puerto Rico and family on the island, I’ve always felt a special connection not only to my life in upper Manhattan but with my roots and summers spent in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico,” he said. He noted during the ceremony that his personal Discover Puerto Rico campaign began in childhood when his parents sent him from New York City to spend a month with his grandparents. “I do not exist without both or either. Today’s public commitment and bond between these two places that I hold so dear could not be more meaningful.” The Caribbean island, he added, needs "as many voices as possible" in order to rebuild.
The Puerto Rico engagement of Hamilton will run Jan. 8 to 27 at Teatro UPR, on the University of Puerto Rico’s main campus in San Juan. Miranda will reprise his role as Alexander Hamilton exclusively for the engagement.
While the musical will run for three weeks and the advertisements will be seen around San Juan and New York City for three months, Miranda added the connection between the two destinations is meant to last for generations.