August 21, 2018
Nearly a year after the devastating Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico wants to emphasize everything they've achieved since. Discover Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory's official destination marketing organization, yesterday announced a post-Maria public-relations campaign on behalf of the island's tourism industry.

Launched a month prior to Maria's one-year anniversary, the "#CoverTheProgress" campaign is directed at members of the news media who will be covering the milestone. Instead of rehashing old coverage about Maria's destruction by showing images of the devastation, the campaign asks them to cover Puerto Rico's rebuilding effort by showing images of the recovery.

"Six months after Hurricane Maria hit, more than fifty percent of travelers said media coverage negatively impacted their view of Puerto Rico as a destination and we're hoping to change that as the one-year anniversary approaches. Puerto Rico declared itself open for tourism in late December, and the local tourism industry has worked very hard for the past year to come back strong. There's a lot to celebrate and we don't want the one-year anniversary to set us back," said Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean. "While there's still progress to be made in some areas of the Island, we're asking for the vibrancy of Puerto Rico as a tourism destination to also be shared and for the milestones the local industry and communities worked hard to achieve to be celebrated. We're taking this moment to encourage all audiences to help us spotlight our tourism recovery and invite travelers to visit us as tourism is a vital contributor to the economy."

#CoverTheProgress isn't just a marketing slogan. The recovery is real, according to Discover Puerto Rico, which says airlift to Puerto Rico is on track to make a full rebound by the fourth quarter of 2018. Meanwhile, the island has more cruises than ever before, plus 132 lodging options, 189 tourist attractions, 13 professional golf courses, 16 casinos and 1,885 restaurants -- all currently open and eager to welcome tourists, including meeting attendees, who next year will be able to enjoy District LIVE!, a five-acre hospitality and entertainment district being built adjacent to the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan.

A symbol of #CoverTheProgress is the community of Humacao, on Puerto Rico's east coast. After Maria, it became famous for an aerial image of local residents who had written "S.O.S. Necesitamos Agua/Comida" -- Spanish for "We Need Water and Food" -- on the pavement of their town, where they hoped helicopters would see it. Nearly a year later, the residents of Humacao have written a new message on the same spot: "Bienvenidos" -- Spanish for "Welcome."

"Being on the island and completely disconnected, we didn't realize how far our picture traveled. We're thankful it did. But now, we're ready to turn the page," said Humacao resident Janet Gonzalez. "We've been wanting to clean up that message for a while, as we're past it. We were asked what message we'd want to share with the world and hope our new positive message spreads just as fast."