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Sustainable tourism project kicks off for Puerto Rico with Harvard experts

Sustainable tourism project kicks off for Puerto Rico with Harvard experts

EplerWood International (EWI) joined the national effort to rebuild Puerto Rico’s economy with an innovative project to develop a new course of action for the Puerto Rican tourism economy.

Megan Epler Wood, the principal of EWI and expert on sustainable tourism, who teaches at Harvard Extension and is the Director of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative at the T.H Chan School of Public Health states,

This tough time in Puerto Rico’s history has been made worse by a plummeting tourism economy. The damage from Hurricane Maria is tragic, but it opens the door to new forms of tourism which can lead to greater sustainable development outcomes for local people.

Epler Wood had a surprise phone call from the Department of Interior’s representative in Puerto Rico, Keenan Adams in January asking if she could help. She immediately said yes, and then called a leading expert and PhD graduate from Harvard, Dr. Juan Carlos Vargas, managing principal and founder of Geoadaptive, LLC., a global think-tank consulting firm that provides territorial and geospatial intelligence in international development, poverty alleviation, environmental conservation, tourism planning, and climate change adaptation. Geoadaptive joined forces with EplerWood International and took the lead on the contract.

Puerto Rico has suffered extensive damage to the island in the wake of Hurricane Maria. In 2017, 7% of the labor force in Puerto Rico, or about 71,500 jobs, contributed to the tourism industry, directly or indirectly. Tourism contributed over 8% of the country’s total GDP, or $8.4 billion USD, last year.