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ICANN73 conference in March ’22 could shore up $10M for Puerto Rico economy

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will resume its in-person regional conventions with ICANN73, to be held March 5-10, 2022, at the Puerto Rico Convention Center.

The meeting, which is expected to gather about 2,100 people, could represent an economic boon of between $8 million and $10 million for the island next year, said Pablo Rodríguez, vice chairman of the Country Code Names Supporting Organization council for Puerto Rico in ICANN, and local spokesman for the entity.

Rodríguez explained that the meeting will provide a hybrid format to allow in-person and virtual participation — marking the first such offering since ICANN began cancelling all its in-person meetings at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

The entity holds three meetings per calendar year, and so far, six in-person events have been canceled in 2020 and 2021, he said, noting that they have been held in a virtual format.

“This will be the first hybrid, post-pandemic meeting, which is very significant for Puerto Rico because we were also the first location to host an ICANN meeting after Hurricane María struck in 2017, even though we had limited hotel rooms available and many of our tourist attractions were either affected or shut down,” Rodríguez said.

ICANN Public Meetings are a central part of the organization’s multi-stakeholder model, and provide a venue for progressing policy work, conducting outreach, exchanging best practices, negotiating business deals, and interacting with other members of the ICANN community, Board, and organization.

The meeting is expected to draw participation from the US mainland, Canada, and Caribbean islands. However, it remains to be seen how many participants opt-in on the virtual agenda.

The ICANN73 event is expected to offer some 200 simultaneous sessions that will address topics such as infrastructure, best practice policies, and cybersecurity policies, which Rodríguez said is an “obvious hot topic with everything that has happened during the pandemic.”

“The pandemic made cybersecurity very real for many people who in the past thought that the internet was for geeks and had nothing to do with them,” he said.

The upcoming event will mark the third time that ICANN has chosen Puerto Rico as its meeting destination. In 2016 and in 2018, the events drew thousands of participants, as News is my Business reported.

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