U.S. Commerce Secretary Bryson Appoints Executive Director of Puerto Rico Tourism Company to U.S. Department of Commerce’s Travel and Tourism Advisory Board

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U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today appointed Mario González-Lafuente, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), to the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, as part of a strategy to promote the United States.

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U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today appointed Mario González-Lafuente, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), to the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, as part of a strategy to promote the United States.

The announcement of González-Lafuente’s participation as one of the 32 members of the TTAB was made during visit by President Obama and Commerce Secretary Bryson to Orlando, Florida today and is the latest in a series of “We Can’t Wait” actions that President Obama and his administration have undertaken to aid job creation through executive action.

As part of today’s swearing-in ceremony and inaugural meeting of the TTAB, González-Lafuente will present his thoughts to Secretary Bryson and fellow Board members on the issues he feels most affect the travel and tourism industry. For González-Lafuente, these are as follows:

  •     Broaden the current Visa Waiver Program, to include those countries that have historically provided large numbers of visitors to the United States. This is particularly important for emerging economies such as those of Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Mexico, for example.
  •     Improve efficiencies at U.S. consular offices to reduce the backlog of requests for tourist visas. Support in-transit programs for airports that have been negatively affected by the changes that resulted from 9/11.
  •     This would result in increased access to different markets in the U.S. for international airlines, support U.S. Open Skies agreements efforts, and increase air traffic in markets that have been affected by post-9/11 changes. It would also support destinations that are currently only served through the major air hubs allowing, for example, for a market such as Puerto Rico to become a strategic connecting hub for Latin America and the Caribbean.
  •     Increase awareness of the financial benefits to hotel owners and developers by implementing green tourism initiatives. Puerto Rico has developed guidelines for green hotels, for example, and green tourism has been growing on the island with the development of eco-friendly and eco-related attractions.

“This Board represents the eyes and ears of our nation’s travel and tourism industry and I am committed to working with each of the esteemed members to bring more visitors to the United States,” Bryson said. “I appreciate the Board members’ dedication to our economic recovery and look forward to working with González-Lafuente to put ideas into action to bolster job creation in this critical economic sector.”

“Congratulations to Mario for this designation, which honors his vast experience and knowledge of the tourism industry. Likewise, this appointment represents the federal government´s acknowledgment of the great advance Puerto Rico has made in positioning the Island as one of the most important tourism destinations in the hemisphere. Through Mario, we wish to continue to contribute to the development of the tourism sector in the United States, by developing strategies and participating directly in the economic recovery of the Nation,” said the governor of Puerto Rico, Luis G. Fortuño.

PRTC’s executive director has dedicated most of his professional life to the travel and tourism industry, including more than a decade as part of PRTC. González-Lafuente has held various positions within the organization in areas such as marketing, public relations and promotion. He was directly involved in developing the organization’s strategic marketing plans, maximizing Puerto Rico’s exposure in the U.S. and developing policy for the cruise ship industry. His knowledge of the inner workings of PRTC, and the industry as a whole, has provided his tenure as Executive Director with the vision that gives San Juan Puerto Rico a successful platform in the travel industry.

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