Chapter News

Member Spotlight – December 2017

by: Mary Cline, PCMA SE Membership Volunteer & Chris Colbert, Director of Membership

The PCMA Southeast Chapter is proud to spotlight one of our 500+ members from across the continent and Puerto Rico in each newsletter.

You could be next…

This month, the Spotlight is on  Ana Maria Viscasillas, Chief Visionary with Business Tourism Services.

How many years have you been in the events/hospitality industry?
Since 1986

How long have you been a PCMA member?
Wow! Over 17 years!

What is your current job title, name of your organization and how long have you been in this position?
Chief Visionary at Business Tourism Services (I am blessed to be the owner of my firm and an entrepreneur for the past 6 years). Prior to starting my own business, I worked for the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, now meetPuerto Rico, for 17 years – 7 of those as President and CEO.

What aspect(s) of your PCMA membership benefit you the most?
Many benefits: sharing knowledge, up to date advances in the industry, current trends, the opportunity to join in the professional development of our beloved Latin American region. I am one of 40 PCMA members in LatAm. What do I cherish the most???? the networking with colleagues, the openness to support one another, and the professionalism while raising the bar. When PCMA talks, the industry listens. That to me is a great benefit. I am able to increase the circle of communication with PCMA and the myriad of tools.

Please share with us about the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on Puerto Rico’s Tourism & Hospitality industry, and the outlook for 2018 and beyond.
Hurricane Irma impacted September 2, 2017; Hurricane Maria impacted September 20, 2017.  As of December 6, 2017, conditions in Puerto Rico are improving on a day to day basis. News of progress provide we, the locals, signs of hope. We have no other way but to go up. We are a resilient community with a strong spirit of community, we are brave warriors ….and YES we are going to enjoy our GREAT Christmas traditions like every year.

Government (federal, and local at all levels) continues to work very hard and non-stop.

Many continue to share stories through social media outlets….. of local and temporary local heroes (our great help from outside the Island) Some hope-inspiring moments…. seeing a massive crew working on power lines (we see the logos Florida, New York, Chicago – GRACIAS). Another moment of great JOY the shouts, noise and yes, fireworks when the power is turned on in any community around our Island. We still like to party!

Lack of power is by far the most critical factor limiting recovery. The Puerto Rico economy (commerce, buildings, telecommunications, hospitals, etc.) when there is no power….. residential properties essentially are operating on emergency generators (many are still on) Yes, we still have communities without running water – minimal but the truth… Government reports 50% of Island with power and 80% with running water.

One of our greatest sources of inspiration is the private sector multi-sector alliance that continues to work non-stop in a multitude of programs…..to support everyone Island-wide, including Vieques and Culebra. We will not stop until we have helped very resident of the Island.

During such tragedy for some, and terrible conditions for many it is amazing to see the generosity and tireless efforts of so many Islanders, visitors, extended families, friends abroad, our kids studying abroad (who all united on food drives in their respective Universities and Colleges) and individuals from outside our 100X35 Island…. who were here, who are still here, and a part of rescue/relief teams; or working from locations stateside and worldwide. We are humbled and awed at the outpouring of support… for that WE ARE GRATEFUL…. But, we still need help.

What are the top three ways PCMA member colleagues can follow, be aware of, and support if able, Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts toward the promotion of tourism to the island?
The best way PCMA can help Puerto Rico is, first and foremost, to document and spread awareness as progress is made….if you receive information from Meet Puerto Rico, do pass it along, share it. All the efforts of Meet Puerto Rico, in sales, in public relations and in social media are devoted to share our progress while engaging industry members to participate in our comeback. Inviting PCMA members to be part of that communication via newsletters, potential meetings, conventions and visits to the Island will certainly contribute to our successful comeback. We are welcoming tourist to the Island and many of them are arriving, not cancelling their trips, and are engaging in supporting our recovery while enjoying our Island.

Another vital way of supporting Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts will be to meet in Puerto Rico. Do contact the team at Meet Puerto Rico, they will be happy to support you.

Share our Story, these are good recovery stories.

What are the top 1 or 2 things you would like for others to know about visiting Puerto Rico today?
Do continue the conversation about Puerto Rico ALIVE and GOING! ….we appreciate all the help and assistance we continue to receive.

Yes, we were hit hard, very hard, that is the truth. But we are resilient and Puerto Rico is already getting back on our feet. The many that were blessed with minimal harm are helping the less fortunate ones. Airlines are operating, national and international flights are arriving and departing from a fully operational airport and our Convention Center is also fully operational. Power is back in main attractions like Old San Juan, our beloved fortress El Morro and the old city amenities are opened to the public and running business as usual. Our gastronomic scene is in full swing with special menus, (yummy!), and our Malls and Outlets are all open.

THANKS PCMA for your concern and for KEEPING PUERTO RICO in your top of mind…..Gracias, from Ana Maria, a thankful Island and its’ grateful residents.

Lisa Kraus GardnerMember Spotlight – December 2017