Months after the Category 4 storm Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico leaving most of the U.S. Territory wrecked and without food, power or running water, leaders on the island have pledged to have parts of Puerto Rico ready for tourists by this Christmas.

Executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company José Izquierdo is optimistic about potentially welcoming visitors by December 20, as the high season for tourism for the region runs from December to May. Tourism is big business for Puerto Rico, with dollars from the more than five million annual visitors to the island contributing more than $8.1 billion to Puerto Rico’s economy, or 8% of the island’s GDP in 2016.

So where does Puerto Rico stand today? Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), Puerto Rico’s largest airport, is up and fully functioning, though service is limited at smaller airports across the island. More than a third of the hotels are open, and cruise ships have begun sailing from the ports again.

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The road to recovery won’t be easy for the island, but future travelers can lend a hand by visiting Puerto Rico as it rebuilds and participating in “voluntourism” relief efforts like island clean up and rebuilding. Visitors are also encouraged to bring hygiene products and medical supplies and to also come with realistic expectations since many attractions, beaches and restaurants remain closed as the island rebuilds. Though it will be years before Puerto Rico returns to how it was pre-Maria, tourism will be essential to how quickly the island recovers.

For the latest on Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts, visit Puerto Rico NOW.


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