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150+ travel industry professionals to visit P.R. to encourage sustainable tourism

The Tourism Cares organization will gather more than 150 travel industry professionals when it holds the “Tourism Cares for Puerto Rico” event next week.

The three-day event has the support of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., agency officials said. Under the “Travel with Purpose” slogan, members of the travel industry, community-based projects, government officials, agricultural industry and social interest organizations will visit the towns of San Juan, Yauco and Ponce.

It is estimated that three-day event will generate more than $62,000 in investment in local businesses, grants and funding for development and value of volunteering, organizers said.

The event seeks to support the development of the local economy to create a resilient future for the island, event officials said.

“With a broad portfolio of tourism projects whose focus is environmental conservation, integration of local communities and the people’s economic welfare, the island has a unique opportunity to promote the development and promotion of this type of experience,” said Tourism Co. Executive Director Carla Campos.

Participants will volunteer at the Center for Microenterprise and Agricultural Technology in Yauco (CMTAS), a sustainable community-based farm. After the hurricanes of 2017, the CMTAS served as a support center providing food and access to clean water. Currently, the organization is developing a tourist experience in its facilities, where it also organizes education and training programs for poor communities on the island.

“We’re excited that participants of Tourism Cares are working with a subsidy from World Central Kitchen’s ‘Plow-to-Plate’ program — a community farm model that still needs to repair damage caused by Hurricane María and that is increasing the long-term capacity of its production facilities, distribution and sale of food,” said Alexandra García, senior program officer of World Central Kitchen.

“The investment of time and work on this farm is an authentic example of how to support tourism development and helps strengthen the resilience of a destination,” said Tourism Cares Executive Paula Vlamings.
“Industry professionals can learn about why having access to a proper source of food is crucial for local communities and how this type of tourism experience can benefit the travel industry,” she said.

“Understanding and experiencing how we can empower communities will help create a more sustainable future for Puerto Rico — and beyond,” she said.

In addition to their volunteer work, participants will share with leaders of community-based social interest organizations to foster the exchange of ideas and greater market integration. The program includes educational sessions that will include exhibitions and talks by local entrepreneurs.

During the event, issues such as emerging agrotourism business, challenges and opportunities in the sector and how to include more local suppliers to the tourism value chain will be discussed.

Tourism Cares for Puerto Rico is an official commitment to action by the Clinton Global Initiative Action (CGI) Network on Post Disaster Recovery. The Tourism Cares’ CGI Commitment Action is a partnership among Foundation for Puerto Rico, World Central Kitchen, Discover Puerto Rico, San Juan Hilton and Hilton Ponce.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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