How Escalating Protests Are Affecting Tourism in Puerto Rico

Jul 18, 2019

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Protests in Puerto Rico calling for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló are ramping up across the island.

According to CNN, the demonstrations began after about 900 pages of leaked conversations from Rosselló’s private Telegram Messenger group were published over the weekend. The scandal — which some are calling “Rickyleaks” — exposed conversations between the governor and other politicians that included profane, homophobic and misogynistic content regarding media figures, celebrities, fellow politicians and others.

Protesters have since taken to the streets of San Juan to demand Rosselló step down as governor. As of now, Rosselló has stated he has no plans to resign.

On Wednesday night, police fired tear gas at protesters during one of the largest demonstrations. San Juan’s mayor, however, is still in support of the protests. “I’m not going to cooperate with [Rosselló’s] abuses. I won’t be part of his efforts to criminalize the legitimate right of the people of Puerto Rico to ask for his resignation,” Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told CNN.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - JULY 17: Demonstrators and police face off during a protest against Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico on July 17, 2019 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Police used tear gas and reportedly fired rubber bullets late Wednesday evening during the protest. There have been calls for the governor to step down after it was revealed that he and top aides were part of a private chat group that contained misogynistic and homophobic messages. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Demonstrators and police face off during a protest in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

With no end in sight for the public demonstrations, some cruise ships bound for Puerto Rico are canceling their stops. “Due to the ongoing civil unrest in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we have canceled Harmony of the Seas’ call to San Juan,” Owen Torres, the manager of corporate communications for Royal Caribbean Cruises, told FOX. “Harmony will now sail to St. Maarten, her next scheduled port of call. Concern for the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew members is our top priority.”

Carnival Cruises, on the other hand, doesn’t have any plans to stop service to Puerto Rico. “Our next call to San Juan isn’t until July 21,” a Carnival representative told TPG in an email. “We are monitoring the situation and will let our guests know if there are any changes. So far, all visits to San Juan remain as scheduled.”

Still, Discover Puerto Rico — the island’s official destination marketing organization — has issued a travel advisory for visitors in San Juan. It states that the protests in Old San Juan have had a “limited impact” on tourism. While all airports, taxi services, tourist attractions and hotels are operating normally across Puerto Rico, the advisory suggests travelers check with businesses in the local area to make sure they are open. Tourists should also allow additional time for travel, as the increased traffic in the area may cause delays.

“We are closely monitoring the protests around Fortaleza,” the advisory reads. “We recommend travelers avoid this area and take precautions traveling in Old San Juan during this time.”

Featured image by Xavier Garcia/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

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