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Foundation for PR to host ‘Destination Hack’ conference

Francis Pérez, project manager for Foundation for Puerto Rico; Damaris Ocasio, and Jorge Besú.

The Foundation for Puerto Rico announced Thursday it will host “Destination Hack” from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 focused on promoting innovation on the island as a tourist destination and accelerate the growth of the visitor economy.

The event, which will combine a “hackathon” and an “unconference,” or disruptive conference, that will consist of lectures, seminars and collaborative workshops with experts from the tourism industry, computer science , academia, government and business to foster alliances, discuss best practices and learn about emerging technologies and tools that can help trigger our economic growth, the nonprofit said.

The hackathon will bring together mentors and hundreds of programmers, designers and techno-entrepreneurs to develop apps and technological solutions in a 30-hour creativity and innovation competition.

“The way a destination relates to its visitors has dramatically changed thanks to rapid advances in technology,” said Damaris Ocasio, COO of Foundation for Puerto Rico.

“Before, a family or business traveler depend on an agency to plan their trip in advance and used printed information. Today, these travelers have available in the palm of their hand endless data that changes the rules of the game, so we all must adapt and embrace change,” she said.

To keep Puerto Rico relevant, competitive and at the forefront, it is necessary to promote emerging technologies that attract visitors to the island’s unique experiences, products and services, Ocasio said.

“The world needs to know what we offer. The conference and hackathon will help us understand best global practices, develop partnerships, create new applications and accelerate innovation in the visitor economy,” she added.

Foundation for Puerto Rico is designing a tool that provides detailed information about available offers throughout the island for the benefit of developers, entrepreneurs, academia and government agencies, which in turn allows expanding and diversifying Puerto Rico’s digital offer.

The information collected in this database powered by the Foundation can be connected with other platforms to update or automatically add information about Puerto Rico.

This platform, which is expected to be open for users in September 2017, provides updated and reliable information about more than 7,000 tourist destinations in Puerto Rico. The Foundation’s database, together with other open and private databases will be shared with the programmers during the hackathon to assist in the technological development.

“The user-generated content on platforms like Google, Kayak, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Facebook, Instagram and Yelp, among others, drive the visitor’s decision prior and during their visit,” said Jorge Besú, organizer of “Destination Hack.”

“We must empower all stakeholders in the visitor economy to maximize the use of technology and the impact on the internet. This is the goal of the activity,” said Besu, who has led hackathons for multiple organizations and actively collaborates with HackPR.

“We have great programming talent in Puerto Rico that we can lead to create apps that help improve the visitor experience. ‘Destination Hack’ will be an innovation platform that will bring together technological talent with tourism industry leaders to create applications, technology solutions and business opportunities,” Besu said.

The visitor economy includes all direct, indirect or inferred economic activity related to the visit of a person or group. It includes unique experiences such as cultural, gastronomic, ecological, educational, sports and medical tourism, among many other possibilities.

The “unconference” and “hackathon” will not be limited to typical tourism and will include challenges and lecturers for medical tourism, investment, art and culture, attractions and many others. Winning applications or solutions will receive cash prizes and experiences of the visitor economy.

For information about the event or to register, visit www.destinohack.com or call Foundation for Puerto Rico at 787-773-1100.

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

Comments (1)

  1. The “Destination Hack” is indeed a great idea. The world needs to know what Puerto Rico offers and what the traveler can expect from a trip to the Island. To keep Puerto Rico relevant and competitive, The Foundation for Puerto Rico should consider providing participats of this “unconference” relevant information pertaining to the impact mosquitoes can have on tourism and the simple steps and recommendations they can take to keep their staff, guests and properties protected against such a seemingly insignificant. This way, they can be actively engaged in averting the devastating effects of last year’s Zika outbreak. No government has the necessary resources to prevent mosquito-borne disease outbreaks like the recent one or prevent the coming one, and the hospitality industry cannot afford to sit idly and wait for a government’s response.

    There is much that can be done in-house without disrupting the image of the facility or guests.

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