Welcome to our new project for the San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Arts & Culture District.
The Santurce district is ‘on the other side of the highway’ from the Condado tourism area and runs from Miramar (near the Puerto Rico Convention Center and Condado Lagoon) for about 4 miles to the Puerto Rico Coliseum and the planned Trocadero Entertainment Center.
Since Caribbean Consulting has our headquarters in a historic house near Stop 24 – we’ve been part of the redevelopment of the district since 2005. In addition to our focus on Cultural Tourism with clients such as the FERINART International Artisans’ Festival and the annual Encuentro de Santeros, we host El Museo de los Santos and the Ellie Pruess Collection in our offices.
As part of the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association’s Marketing Committee, I have sat through meeting after meeting where Arts and Culture has always been mentioned as a natural ‘competitive advantage’ for Puerto Rico.
Almost everyone agrees that Arts and Culture should be an important part of our tourism product. However, it can be difficult for tourists to find a calendar of events, salsa lesson, updated map, directions to venues, or purchase tickets online – since traditional arts-marketing in San Juan often relies heavily on ‘week-before’ advertising, free media coverage and telephone/box office sales.
In order for the arts to be a magnet for tourism – travel consumers need sufficient advance notice to plan vacations, purchase airline tickets and book hotels. Caribbean Consulting has found that 3-6 months advance promotion is optimal for cultural tourism. However, the more time you can promote an event – the more revenue will be generated for both the events and hotels/restaurants/transportation/local taxes. As an example – Trinidad publishes dates for their Carnival through 2020.
JetBlue in particular has emphasized that Arts and Culture give Puerto Rico a fantastic alternative to other islands that have nothing more than beaches and bars. They make the point that if it rains in the Turks & Caicos Islands, tourists have nothing to do but sit in their room and watch cable TV. In Puerto Rico, a rainy day may be a welcome break to explore museums, culture and concerts.
Since Caribbean Consulting has specialized in Tourism Merchandising and Product Development for the past 20 years – we have created this prototype to show how the many arts venues and cultural attractions can be presented as a unified product that is accessible and appealing to tourists and becomes a complement to existing marketing efforts. While tourists may not select Puerto Rico only for the arts and culture, it may become a critical ‘competitive advantage’ that makes a travel consumer select Puerto Rico as their destination instead of the hundreds of beaches they may have initially considered.
Arte Santurce began the effort to unify the various arts organizations within the district and they have done an admirable job with their website www.artesanturce.net which presents their members from Parada 15 to Barrio Obrero.
This website seeks to expand this idea and look at the arts from a tourism perspective. We expand the reach to include Stop 12 in Miramar (where many tourists may book hotels, enjoy restaurants or discover our historical zone) and extend all the way to Hato Rey to include the Puerto Rico Coliseum and planned Trocadero Entertainment Center (where major international tours/events should attract tourists in additional to the local market).
We have presented the district on a ‘Parada by Parada’ format that reflects the way tourists will explore the district with easy to follow instructions on how to get there from major hotel areas such as Condado, Old San Juan and Isla Verde. We also explain public transportation options which will hopefully improve as the district develops.
We present the district as an integrated product, not only promoting the arts and culture – but presenting tourists with local restaurants, shops, nightclubs and services which will not only make their visit more enjoyable, it will also promote local business and increase economic activity.
In order to provide an incentive to explore the district during the day, we have started to include architectural listings and will eventually include all building on the National Registry of Historic Places and would like to have walking tours for the Miramar Historic District, Modernismo, Nechodoma’s Tropical Prairie Style , Art Deco and Santurce Then and Now.
In an effort to explain the ‘transitional’ nature of much of the district – we have included history through ‘then and now’ postcards and an extensive ‘street art’ section to appeal to a younger demographic and also help turn our graffiti enhanced abandoned buildings into a compelling canvas for one of today’s hottest art genres.
Finally, we will present hotels not only within the district – but also those hotels in Condado, Ocean Park, Old San Juan and Convention Center that provide easy access to the arts district to forge a unified product of beach, service and access to the arts.
Caribbean Consulting has interviewed hundreds of tourists and all agree that Arts & Culture is a natural combination with the beaches and history that are more often promoted by tourism entities. All agree that they would consider longer stays or return visits if they knew what events were scheduled and if they could purchase tickets in advance as part of their trip planning. The most common reaction – especially from tourists in Condado was ‘you mean all of this is so close and I had no idea it existed!’.
In an effort to get things started and show the potential of Santurce as a magnet for tourism and urban redevelopment, I’ve started this site as a prototype for what I think should be done to promote the area.
Since this is a part-time effort, the site is growing slowly with some rough edges, preliminary photos, maps, graphics and text.
This can all be changed with some funding – so if anyone is interested in partnering with Caribbean Consulting to speed development of the site, please give me a call!