Food & Drink

Puerto Rico’s Most Rocking New Year’s Eve In 500 Years Will Roll More Quietly Because Of COVID-19

This year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations will be a little more sober than anticipated on what marks a momentous year for the party-loving people of Puerto Rico. To coincide with the 500th anniversary of its capital city in 2022, Puerto Rico is making its official debut on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” by hosting the iconic TV show’s first Spanish-language countdown to midnight. Though the global audience will still be able to watch the televised version, the virulent Omicron strain of COVID-19 has muted the excitement by keeping the public from participating in person.

“In an effort to ensure the safety of both residents and visitors, the governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, has announced scaling back the planned New Year’s Eve celebration at DISTRITO T-Mobile,” emails Discover Puerto Rico’s chief marketing officer, Leah Chandler, of the festive countdown and live music performances scheduled for the brand-new Distrito drinking, dining and entertainment complex in San Juan. 

Before the unfortunate announcement, the stars had lined up perfectly for Puerto Rico to spectacularly showcase its fun-loving culture to thousands of attendees and approximately 20 million viewers. Not only is it San Juan’s quincentennial, the telecast – now hosted by Ryan Seacrest – turns 50 this year. Beyond that, the commonwealth welcomed an unprecedented number of tourists in 2021 and just opened Distrito, whose many superlative descriptors have PR’s stakeholders calling it a game-changer for events and marketing. 

“Discover Puerto Rico, alongside our public relations agency Ketchum, identified this as a  dream moment for Puerto Rico and thus approached Dick Clark productions to pitch the idea (three) years ago,” says Chandler. “DISTRITO T-Mobile is our newest state-of-the-art entertainment and nightlife complex. It opened in August, and it’s truly the perfect location and backdrop for such a historic celebration.”

Televised performances by headliners like Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee and actor and singer Roselyn Sanchez will go on on ABC, as will the Spanish countdown, starting just before 11pm EST (midnight in San Juan). And though the crowds will be kept from Distrito, a record-breaking number of them will presumably be partying elsewhere.

With Puerto Rico emerging out of a bleak decade marred by a deep recession and two devastating hurricanes, the pandemic has boosted some key economic indicators in the tourism sector. Hotel bookings for this week beat those of 2019 by 41%, with combined hotel and rental demand for 2021 beating the record set that year by 16%. Lodging revenue surpassed $1 billion for the first time this year, and the busiest US airline route during COVID-19 has been Orlando to San Juan. 

At a time when international travel has largely shut down, this tropical American territory has beckoned mainland travelers with its many charms, not least of which may be the emotional security it offers as one of the most COVID-cautious places in the country. The governor has long required visitors arriving by air to show a negative test result or risk quarantine, and bars and restaurants currently require patrons to show a vaccination card or a negative test result no greater than 48 hours old. Large events require a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours in addition to proof of vaccination. 

With 89% of the eligible population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, and an 80% full vaccination rate, Puerto Rico boasts one of the highest vaccination rates in the US.

Chandler says, “While the New Year’s celebrations will be virtual, the Island is beyond prepared and rather excited to continue welcoming travelers. Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2022 validates our Island’s stature as a must-visit destination more than capable of hosting  events of this magnitude, all while continuing to keep the public’s health and safety in  mind every step of the way. This event rockets Puerto Rico into a new  realm of entertainment events, unlike ever before.”


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