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.
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.