Social Enterprise Development through Tourism

Commitment by Tourism Cares

In 2019, Tourism Cares committed to facilitate partnerships between tourism companies and micro, small, and social enterprises in Puerto Rico, to better integrate local products into corporate supply chains and inspire investment. Tourism is a key economic driver in recovering from the 2017 hurricanes. Furthermore, local tourism expansion can create demand for social enterprises such as those selling recycled products, and strengthen food security by connecting small scale farmers with the tourism industry. Through this commitment, Tourism Cares will be to bring together more than 100 tourism executives and more than 50 leaders of micro, small, and social enterprises in Puerto Rico on May 8-10, 2019 to discuss local innovation through sustainability practices, food sovereignty, and entrepreneurship. Tourism Cares will train 150 delegates on capacity building, sustainability, and hospitality preparedness. To continue the effort, Tourism Cares will require participants to develop projects that support local enterprises and conduct follow up on their progress.



Social Enterprise Development through Tourism



Est. Duration

2 Years

Estimated Total Value



Latin America & Caribbean



Commitment by

Tourism Cares

Partner(s) of the Commitment Maker(s)

World Central Kitchen; Foundation for Puerto Rico; Discover Puerto Rico; El Departamento de la Comida; Serralles Hotel, Inc.; Puerto Rico Tourism Company; Para la Naturaleza; World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)

Tourism Cares and its providers commit to facilitating partnerships between top tourism companies and micro, small, and social enterprises in Puerto Rico, to better integrate local products into the larger corporate supply chain and inspire future investment in the market. Tourism Cares’ first step to support creating these partnerships will be to bring together more than 100 top level tourism executives and more than 50 leaders of micro, small, and social enterprises in Puerto Rico on May 8-10, 2019. During this event, executives from global companies will learn about issues being solved through local innovation in the region, including sustainability practices, food sovereignty, and entrepreneurship. Participants will have the opportunity to showcase their tourism offerings, initiatives, and mission-driven work. They will work to identify opportunities to integrate local products and services into the larger tourism supply chain.

To identify participants for this event, Tourism Cares will utilize their network of over 160 global organizations and work with partners to identify small-enterprises and social enterprises. Targeted organizations include small shareholder farmers, social enterprises, textile and handicraft artisans, and cooperatives. Tourism Cares will conduct a series of events including: at least five site visits to areas outside typical tourist destinations, discussion on food sovereignty, and discussion on sustainability and plastics as a commodity. Tourism Cares will also host a capacity building and sustainability training program for 150 delegates. The network of global leaders will be asked to take action on supporting small enterprises. As part of their commitment, Tourism Cares will showcase an existing agritourism project led by World Central Kitchen to inspire delegates to replicate its model and develop new projects. Other potential projects may include auditing supply chains, incorporating sustainable practices, contracting, and sourcing from local vendors, strengthening CSR, and supporting capacity of local enterprises. At the 6-month and 12-month mark Tourism Cares will check-in with all delegates on the progress that they have made in forming these partnerships.

December 2018: Member invitations will be disbursed to Tourism Cares 160+ corporate supporters for registration of $399 inclusive of 3-days of programming. Ground-partner vetting, research, and needs assessments conducted remotely.

January 2019: Tourism Cares team conducts initial site visit with partners, in Puerto Rico. Pilot test social enterprise products and service, provide market-driven feedback and conduct needs assessment for capacity and infrastructure improvement to reach marketability. In addition, Public registration of Program disbursed through all channels and partner channels.

February 2019: Tourism Cares logistic team conducts second site visit, solidifying routing, logistics, and timing. March 2019: Continued planning and logistics conducted by the Tourism Cares team remotely. April 2019: Market event at World Travel and Trade Council in Seville to 50+ top-level tourism professionals, government officials, and multi-lateral organizations.

May 2019: Event is held. June 2019: Follow up communication with a survey will be disbursed to all delegates to gather measurable indicators.

November 2019: Conduct a six-month follow-up with partners to identify established and ongoing partnerships.


Tourism has been a viable economic driver for the region of Puerto Rico to recover from natural disasters. Many micro, small, and social enterprises that could benefit greatly from the tourism economy but have limited to access the formal tourism market. Currently only 10% of the island’s economy participates in the tourism sector, an increase would provide more sustainable income post disaster given that tourism recovers more quickly than other sectors. Tourism in Puerto Rico took a major hit during the 2017 hurricane season. The World Travel and Trade organization has projected that direct contribution through tourism will fall by 0.4% in 2018 and total contribution will remain the same. However, 90% of total hotel inventory has recovered and is ready for market (Puerto Rico Tourism Company), and major travel and leisure companies have invested in the return of tourism on the island. Tourism has the potential to reach some of the most rural and remote entrepreneurs and small-business owners and it is an ideal time invest in these small businesses to provide capacity, support, and a market-linkages as the island reinvents its product offerings. Additionally, local tourism expansion has the potential to create demand for social enterprises such as selling recycled products or utilizing tourists to assist with environmental projects -- all efforts which support resiliency and sustainability. Furthermore, with 85% of Puerto Rico’s food is imported. Creating linkages to the formal tourism market is critical in developing food sovereignty and spreading economic recovery beyond major cities. This can be addressed through local tourism development. Small scale farmers across the island can address food security by engaging with the formal tourism market to support supply chain inclusion and agritourism, while creating more independence, sovereignty, and supply for local consumers.

Partnership Opportunities

Tourism Cares is currently seeking corporate supporters and early adopters as cash-donations for the three-day program. Tourism Cares is seeking an outstanding amount of $75-$100K in sponsor support and media support for the event. Some partners have been identified, but contracted services are still being defined. Tourism Cares is seeking social media influencers to support the event. Tourism Cares is also seeking logistical support (transport vehicles for delegates) from a local operator, and in-kind support (materials and resources) that will be donated to small shareholder farmers. A request for proposals have been sent to for both outstanding services and donations. Tourism Cares will be offering a conduit and platform for 25-50 micro, small, and social enterprise organizations to network with more than 100 large and global organizations to negotiate, form partnerships, connections, and purchase their products and services. Tourism Cares will also be providing media support through media partners including AFAR Media, Travel Weekly, destination marketing organizations such as partner, Discovery Puerto Rico, and a number of invited social media influencers.

Progress Reports

December 2019

In May 2019, Tourism Cares brought together 150 travel professionals for a three-day blended learning, cross-sector dialogue, and volunteering experience in Puerto Rico. The three-day Meaningful Travel Summit joined forces with the formal travel industry, community-based tourism initiatives, governmental officials, small shareholder agriculture community, and local social enterprises to support the development of local economies resiliency towards future natural disasters on the island.

The Meaningful Travel Summit invested $100,000 USD into the local economy through grant funding and volunteer labor value.

The goal of this program was to bring awareness and create a demand for local tourism experiences, spread tourism beyond San Juan, and facilitate partnerships with micro, small, and social enterprises. The aim is to connect lesser known tourism opportunities with the formal tourism economy, and to better prepare these organizations to merchandise their tourism assets.

A platform for these enterprises was provided through a social enterprise connector, collaborative cross-sector dialogue, a thought leadership workshop, an artisan market, and volunteering.

Tourism Cares hosted a social enterprise connector, providing showcasing-space for 15 non-profit and social enterprises across Puerto Rico to educate the mass tourism market on community-based tourism initiatives as potential tourism assets and product. All 15 organizations were hosted on numerous one-on-one preparatory calls with Tourism Cares to provide guidance on how to pitch tourism assets, marketability, and social impact to the tourism market.

Tourism Cares also hosted a discussion in partnership with World Central Kitchen, El Departamento de la Comida, Marriott International, Frutos del Guacabo, and Conservación ConCiencia to challenge the Summit’s delegates on taking steps to integrate and source raw materials locally, and how operationalizing local sourcing can address issues such as food sovereignty on the island.

In partnership with Local Guest, Tourism Cares hosted a three-hour human-centered design course for 20 small and medium tourism businesses on how to trouble-shoot customer care issues to strengthen hospitality and local business strategies in Puerto Rico.

Tourism Cares hosted an artisan market in partnership with Local Guest as part of an industry reception in Ponce. The goal was to encourage delegates that by sourcing locally, tourism can be used as a vehicle to preserve culture and invest in the next generation of artists. 13 artists were featured in this marketplace. All 150 delegates also volunteered on a community cooperative farm in Yauco (CMTAS, a recipient of a Tourism Cares enterprise building grant), that is working to support small shareholder farmers and utilizing tourism to diversify revenue.

Sustainable product sourcing company MaCher committed to mentoring and providing pro bono consulting services to a number of social enterprise partners to become B Corp certified. Associations including The Voice of Student and Youth Travel (SYTA) and the National Tourism Association (NTA) committed to eliminating one-time use plastics at future conferences and events. United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) invited representatives from El Departamento de la Comida to showcase their work on their annual conference mainstage, with an attendance of 700 delegates from around the world. Additionally, tour operators such as Collette committed to integrating all products and services included in the Summit into a destination product for Puerto Rico.

Partnerships will be further developed through Tourism Cares’ upcoming program in Puerto Rico with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) by hosting a “Day of Sustainable Action” as part of the official WTTC 2020 program. Non-profit and social enterprise partners through Tourism Cares Meaningful Travel Summit will collaborate on this program with anticipation to engage 75 CEOs from the largest global travel and tourism companies worldwide. This is set to take place April 24th, 2020.