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Puerto Rico: the meeting place of the Americas. (Special Advertising Feature).

The Meeting Place of the Americas

Puerto Rico's new state-of-the-art convention center will provide an exceptional setting for successful trade shows, exhibitions, and business meetings, attracting visitors from around the world.

Underlining its commitment to serve the global business meeting and convention market, the Government of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority are rapidly moving forward with construction of a new convention center that will put the fabled island at the forefront of corporate and international meeting destinations.

With its grand opening planned for mid-2005, the new Puerto Rico Convention Center will enable visitors to experience the distinctiveness of Puerto Rico amid one of the most ambitious waterfront projects in the history of the United States and its territories. The new center is expected to be the largest convention center in the Caribbean and the most sophisticated exhibition facility in Latin America.

"In addition to developing a state-of-the-art facility that is consistent with the quality and standards of a world-class convention center, we've also designed a convention center with an architectural expression which recalls the island's natural resources and unique beauty to offer a truly distinctive convention and travel experience," said Jose M. Suarez, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

The Puerto Rico Convention Center will have a huge exhibition hall, the largest ballroom in the Caribbean, and a wide array of meeting spaces. The center will be outfitted with state-of-the-art telecommunications technology, audiovisual systems, and lighting.

Luring International Conventions

The convention center's inauguration will create a singular destination for conventions, trade shows, consumer shows and congresses. It will enable Puerto Rico to be an even bigger competitor in the convention markets of North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, capitalizing on the island's high-tech infrastructure and tropical atmosphere.

Puerto Rico has long been a favorite place for meetings and conventions. Its natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and genuine hospitality draw thousands of visitors each year. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Puerto Rico is both exotic and familiar--combining U.S.-style sophistications with the warmth of its Latin culture.

With easy air connections to the rest of the world, Puerto Rico lies only a 2.5-hour flight from Miami and connections to Latin America. Major carriers flying to San Juan are ACES, American Airlines, Continental, Copa, Delta, Iberia, Jet Blue Airlines, Northwestern, Spirit Airlines, and US Airways.

Forty Years of Expertise

Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau and its affiliated member-suppliers have honed their planning services to a fine art. A professional network of more than 550 members delivers everything that the most demanding meeting planner might require--from initial proposals and site inspections to first-rate support services.

In order to attract more national and international events to Puerto Rico, the Government of Puerto Rico has embarked on the project now called the Puerto Rico Convention Center District. This unique development was conceived as a dynamic urban center with shopping, cinemas, and entertainment facilities to include restaurants and other amenities. The centerpiece--and its crowning jewel--will be the new convention center rising just alongside the massive walls of Old San Juan and the fortress of El Morro.

The 113-acre area is located on the site of the former U.S. Naval and Coast Guard base in San Juan's Isla Grande, convenient to Old San Juan, the Luis Munoz Mann International Airport, and the Condado hotels and tourist district.

In its architectural expression, the design is meant to echo the sights and ambiance of Puerto Rico. For example, large sweeping roof forms bring to mind ocean waves--their complex geometry, color and translucency. The materials for the exterior and interior (stone, polished stone, stuccoed concrete, glass-stayed curtain wall and traditional curtain wall) provide a Puerto Rican feel within a contemporary design scheme. Inside, many of the tiles, doors and wallpaper hangings will have island motifs.

Perfect Climate for Big Business

The perfect compliment to Puerto Rico's successful meeting and convention business and the stunning, new convention center that is on its way is the island's vibrant business climate, giving the island national and international acclaim. With more than 2,000 diverse industrial plants producing and shipping everything from pharmaceuticals to computer components and medical devices, Puerto Rico's economy is vibrant and growing.

The island is the world's largest manufacturer of pharmaceutical products and is home to more than 165 regional offices of Fortune 500 companies. Puerto Rico is also has a first-rate banking system comparable to G-7 economies and the most modern telecommunications system in Latin America. One out of four Hispanic engineers in the U.S. is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico and 60 percent of the college-age population on the island is enrolled in the island's colleges and universities.

Something for Everyone

Not far from all the burgeoning business and with easy access to the site of the new Puerto Rico Convention Center, convention and exhibition delegates can find enticing off-site locations for gatherings, meetings and leisurely excursions, such as the famous El Yunque rainforest, historic Old San Juan (the only walled city in the Caribbean) and the glorious mansion of Puerto Rico's first governor. The Bacardi Rum Plant, the largest rum distillery in the world, is another popular stop.

On the northwest side of the island, the Rio Camuy Cave Park offers an exciting visit to one of the largest river cave systems in the hemisphere. By way of trolley, boardwalks, steps and paths, visitors view immense tropical sinkholes and majestic caves that form a portion of the 300-acre cave network.

In the south, the Bioluminescent Bay of La Parguera fishing village is another remarkable landmark. The bay's nighttime underwater "fireworks" display is produced by millions of bioluminescent microorganisms.

Columbus Discovers the "Rich Port"

Steeped in history, Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. He found the island was richly abundant in gold; hence, the name "Puerto Rico" (Rich Port). Many of the buildings from Spanish colonial days still stand, and visitors can walk the cobblestone streets for a trip back in time.

History and natural beauty provide the backdrop for meeting, convention and business travel to Puerto Rico. But in the end, the visitor will take home memories of Puerto Rico's modern conveniences and high-tech touches that make every meeting a success. Nowhere else in the world can the corporate visitor find such a combination, where the Old World and the New World meet and create a satisfying meeting travel experience!

RELATED ARTICLE: Key Facts about Puerto Rico

Population: 3,900,000; 1.3 million in San Juan metropolitan area (2000 Census).

Capital: San Juan

Currency: U.S. dollar, with an extensive network of 24-hour automated teller machines (ATM) throughout the island.

Mail: U.S. Postal Service, plus major international courier services such as FedEx, UPS and DHL.

Taxes: No excise tax imposed on materials imported for conventions or promotional purposes.

Languages: Spanish and English are both the official languages.

Climate: Average temperature is 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius)

Telephone: Area codes are 787 and 939. All major U.S. long-distance carriers provide service.

Electricity: 120 volts AC.

Size: 100 by 35 miles (160 by 56 kilometers.

Key Facts about the Puerto Rico Convention Center

To be the largest convention center and largest ballroom in the Caribbean

To be the most sophisticated exhibition facility in Latin America

To feature the world's largest chandelier

Total enclosed space: 600,000 square feet

Total exhibition space: 158,000 square feet

Ballroom space: 40,000 square feet

Meeting space: 40,000 square feet; 25 breakout rooms

Public circulation and concourses: 102,000 square feet

Support, service and administration: 239,000 square feet

Loading dock: Accommodates 22 truck bays on one level; six with automated lever

Future phases: Expansion to 450,000 square feet of contiguous exhibition hall space, with a total of 180,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space.

Architects: The design architect is TVS International, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia. The production architect of record is Jimenez + Rodriguez Barcelo A.I.A., in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Did you know?

Puerto Rico is the largest producer of rum in the world.

The 10th largest export market for the United States.

The bridge between North and South America, and a facilitator between Latin America and the United States.

Has the largest casino in the Caribbean.

Has the largest tennis center in the Caribbean.

Has the world's third-largest underground river system.

San Juan is the second-largest homeport for cruise ships in the world.

Home to the largest radio/telescope in the world at the Arecibo Observatory.

How to book the Puerto Rico Convention Center

Bookings are being accepted for events in 2005. The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau is the official sales and marketing agent for the Puerto Rico Convention Center at the Puerto Rico Convention District.

Based in San Juan, with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Miami and Madrid, Spain, the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau provides sales, consultation and support services to meeting planners in corporate, incentive and association markets.

Contact the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau at: 1-800-875-4765 (toll-free in the United States); (787) 725-2110 in Puerto Rico; 011-34-91-4312128 in Madrid, Spain; 00-800-7426-7426 (toll-free for U.K., Netherlands, Belgium and Italy); or visit the following websites: www.meetpuertorico.com or www.proconventioncenter.com.

Top 10 reasons to host events at the Puerto Rico Convention Center

State-of-the-art meeting space and technology--The Puerto Rico Convention Center will be Latin America's most modern, most high-tech convention venue and the largest in the Caribbean.

Visitor-friendly--The Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau and the Convention Center District Authority work with the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association to offer visitors an enjoyable experience.

Excellent international air connections--San Juan is served by more than 70 daily non-stop flights from the United States and other international destinations.

Efficient ground transportation--Visitors travel comfortably throughout the island: Taxis, tour operators, and full-service destination management companies with fully equipped vehicles.

Top-notch accommodations--Puerto Rico hotels and resorts offer a variety of international standard rooms, villas and many types of suites.

Booking expertise--The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau offers a "one-stop shopping" approach to help coordinate, promote and manage a meeting on the island.

Pre and post-meeting activities--Meeting delegates can tailor island tours to take in historical sites, natural wonders, breathless adventure or tranquil repose.

Versatility--Puerto Rico has it all, from natural, tropical ambiance and historic flavor to an alluring cosmopolitan flair in the future Convention Center District.

Dining and nightlife--Award-winning restaurants offer traditional fare and international cuisine; sophisticated nightclubs and casinos offer after-dinner entertainment.

Year-Round Tropical Climate--Puerto Rico's climate is among the most pleasant in the world, with average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) all year round.
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Title Annotation:state-of-the-art convention center
Comment:Puerto Rico: the meeting place of the Americas. (Special Advertising Feature).(state-of-the-art convention center)
Publication:Latin Trade
Geographic Code:1U0PR
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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