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Foundation for Puerto Rico moving forward with destination plans for eastern region

Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR) is moving ahead with its Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative to drive the island’s recovery based on a sustainable model that supports communities to become more resilient and proactive in the development of their social, natural and cultural assets.

On Aug. 11, the program will present the destination plans created together with the communities for the Luquillo/Fajardo and Ceiba/Naguabo regions, during the virtual event “De roadtrip por el este: community, planning and tourism.”

The virtual event, which will serve as a platform to present the destination plans, will be open to the public and will feature a variety of panels and interviews to learn about the charms that the eastern region of Puerto Rico has to offer and how we seek to boost the economic development of Luquillo, Fajardo, Ceiba and Naguabo, through tourism planning and collaborations with the communities.

Those interested in participating in this event should register.

“Bottom Up is a program that focuses on cross-sector collaboration, particularly with the community. For six months, our team moves to the region we are supporting to get to know the community and learn about its strengths, needs and areas of opportunity,” said Alma Frontera, FPR’s vice president of operations and programs. 

“In this process of immersion and collaboration, we work from the ground up to develop destination plans, which establish a roadmap of projects and proposals to develop the region’s assets, thus fostering the visitor economy and economic growth,” she said, of the initiative that began in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane María.

The plans that will be presented include a series of recommendations based on those areas of opportunity that the eastern region has to further develop its offer for both local and international visitors.

“The eastern region has some of the most important tourism assets of our island, such as El Yunque, the Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve, the beautiful Palomino and Icacos cays, and the diverse gastronomy focused on local fishing, among others,” said Michelle Torres, director of community planning for Bottom Up.

“However, together with the communities, we’ve developed plans that present new assets that could be developed, as well as recommendations on how to strengthen existing attractions,” she said.

Since its inception, the program has been established in several regions across Puerto Rico, including the municipalities of Aguadilla, Arecibo, Barceloneta, Cabo Rojo, Camuy, Ceiba, Fajardo, Humacao, Isabela, Luquillo, Manatí, Naguabo, Orocovis and San Germán.

The Bottom Up program has supported more than 500 nonprofits and more than 600 businesses, the Foundation stated.

In addition, as part of the infrastructure component, more than 2,000 products have been distributed to promote resilience, such as solar lights, water tanks and telecommunications equipment to respond to emergencies.

FPR recently donated some $588,000 worth of solar panels and batteries to 21 nonprofit organizations that provide essential services to communities during emergencies.   

The program has also served to promote the revitalization of tourism assets, which is already palpable. One example is the recent reopening of Mar Sin Barreras at the Luquillo public beach, a space that, for years fell into disuse due to lack of maintenance.

The project was recently renovated through an FPR-led effort to serve people with functional diversity by providing them with direct access to the seashore. It will be officially inaugurated today.

Other examples are the opening of Camuy River Caves Park, an important asset of the northern region that had been closed since the passing of Hurricane María, and the renovation of the Guajataca Tunnel in Quebradillas and Isabela.

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

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