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Despite challenges from earthquakes and the loss of a major event in early 2020, Puerto Rico’s efforts to become a premier event destination are finally coming to fruition. Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean largely credits a new approach to event planner site visits as one of the catalysts to the island’s flurry of leads.

Estimates project a potential $320 million in economic impact for the meetings and events sector alone over the next six years. The Puerto Rico Convention Center closed its most successful year in 2019: A 21 percent increase in total events, based on a 13-year average, is paving the way for more growth in 2020 and beyond.

Rather than focusing solely on venue and hospitality features during site-visit trips, event planners coming to Puerto Rico can expect a more experiential approach to get a taste of the island’s cultural and entertainment assets.

Further fueling interest in Puerto Rico as a business events destination is the first hotel opening in El Distrito, an experiential complex set to include an enticing range of venue space, retail, dining, and entertainment opportunities. The Aloft Hotel opened its doors in El Distrito last week as the brand’s first Caribbean location, adding to the island’s foothold as an emerging leader in destination events.

If you have any feedback about the newsletter or news tips, feel free to reach out via email at lw@skift.com.

— Lauren Ward, Events Editor

The Future of Meetings and Events

Puerto Rico Pushes Through Recent Setbacks to Win Over Event Planners: Puerto Rico is positioning itself as a global events destination, despite January’s seismic activity. With a new marketing campaign and multiple initiatives aimed at attracting planners and attendees, the island’s efforts are starting to pay off.

Skift Forum Europe Preview: Black Tomato Leads the Charge on the Mindful Travel Movement: As long as luxury travelers continue to want one-of-a-kind experiences, companies like Black Tomato will likely find success delivering these rare, transformational itineraries.

TripActions Launches Virtual Card Product for Corporate Travelers: Virtual cards aren’t anything new in corporate travel, despite limited adoption. But stronger integration with travel booking apps like TripActions could help mainstream the technology, which benefits both travelers and administrators.

Around the Industry

Abandoned Hong Kong Hotels Go Into Survival Mode as Virus Fallout Spreads: As hotel occupancy plunges to a single digit, Hong Kong’s leadership toward one of its most important industries is being put to the test during the coronavirus crisis. So is the leadership of hotel CEOs in keeping their companies whole.

Japan’s Olympic Year Deflates Due to Virus Outbreak, Economic Woes: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insists that the Olympic Games will go on as planned in July. But Abe and his government officials are going to need to do some serious damage control as international criticism mounts over Tokyo’s handling of the Diamond Princess quarantine.

This Company Helps Luxury Hotels Go Analog to Get Guests to Unplug: The luxury hospitality industry is trying to help guests unwind in these anxiety-ridden, tech-addicted times. It’s refreshing to think that something as simple as a book can make a difference — plus drive repeat hotel visits and even foster community. Luxury properties should take note.

The Best of EventMB

The Best of EventMB is our newest section, giving you a look into key content from EventMB, whether it be reports, articles, or resources for planners. EventMB joined the Skift family in September and is the largest online media resource for trends, technology, innovation, and education in the events industry.

Event Cancellations From Coronavirus Rekindle Interest in Online Events: Virtual events have become more popular in recent years due to improving tech as well as their cost-effectiveness and environmental merit. Now, with the coronavirus prompting event cancellations and travel bans worldwide, virtual events have never been more timely.

Subscribe to the Skift Meetings Innovation Report

Events Editor Lauren Ward [lw@skift.com] curates the Skift Meetings Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Aloft San Juan in Puerto Rico. El Distrito's first hotel opened its doors last week. Aloft San Juan