The Puerto Rico Tourism Co. announced Monday it has joined the World Tourism Organization to commemorate the annual “Tourism Month” celebration.
To mark the event, the agency has scheduled a series of events in partnership with environmental and community-based organizations dedicated to empowering communities and increasing economic activity in their area through tourism business ventures. The Tourism Co. plays an important role as facilitator for these new ventures through its incentives program, the agency’s Executive Director Ingrid Rivera said.
“The Tourism Co. and the World Tourism Organization recognize the role the tourism industry has in the creation of much-needed employment on a local, as well as global scale,” she said.
“The tourism industry also contributes significantly to promoting economic growth in communities by fostering the implementation of sustainable tourism practices,” she said.
Community-based sustainable tourism is important because most of the benefits derived from the new enterprises stay within the community, thus multiplying its effect on the regional economy, she said.
“The community-based sustainable tourism model is an approach that should be extensively encouraged due to the social, economic, and environmental benefits it offers,” Rivera said.
The agency’s Eco-Tourism and Agro-Tourism programs are backing enterprises geared toward creating and maintaining new jobs, she said, noting that last month, the agency inaugurated the Agro-Tourism Program at Hacienda Tres Ángeles in Adjuntas.
Furthermore, the Tourism Co.’s Eco-Tourism Program will soon begin with the induction of its first endorsed facility, a yet-to-be-identified Puerto Rican business established in the central region of the island.
According to Rivera, these business projects were inspired by the success of the Reserva Natural Ecoturística Efraín Archilla Diez in Humacao. The pilot project was created at the beginning of this decade when it was chosen to foster the development of micro-businesses.
“The reserve currently boasts five community business ventures which generated 13 direct jobs and revitalized the area adjacent to the reserve. These businesses facilitated the creation new indirect jobs,” the government official said.
The agency now aims to duplicate the results of the success obtained at the Reserva Natural Ecoturística Efraín Archilla Diez, by helping create additional eco-tourism and agro-tourism projects. To achieve that, the Tourism Co. has been working since January 2013 to launch a community-based economic development model under the name of “Community-Based Sustainable Tourism Program.”
The program’s ultimate objective is to create a comprehensive program integrating green economy and tourism. During the months of September and October, the agency’s Sustainable Tourism Division is scheduled to evaluate various community-based proposals in agricultural and natural reserve areas, she said.
This year, “World Tourism Day” will be celebrated Sept. 27th, under the “Tourism and Community Development” theme.