Executive director for the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Ingrid Rivera Rocafort, has announced the start of the agency’s Agricultural Tourism Program with the official certification of Hacienda Tres Ángeles in the municipality of Adjuntas, located at the Island’s central mountainous region.
Agricultural Tourism is a form of sustainable tourism, in which the visitor has the opportunity to learn about agricultural areas, tasks, local products, native foods and the region’s everyday life, as well as the destination’s cultural heritage and traditions.
Agricultural Tourism also provides an additional income to the local agricultural market.
“With the start of this Program, we strengthen our commitment to stimulate the development of tourism niches based on particular elements of our Island, such as our produce and the work of our people. “Both are the pillars of agricultural tourism and impact the economic and social sustainability of farmers, the local tourism industry and the economic development of the Island as a whole,” said the PRTC executive director.
Hacienda Tres Ángeles, founded by young Puerto Rican entrepreneur, Juan Meléndez, is an example of the potential and impact that the Agricultural Tourism niche has on the local tourism industry.
With a total investment of $516,192, including a contribution of $242,435 from the Department of Agriculture, Meléndez began the 100 acre farm, dedicating 90 per cent of the land to grow coffee, and the rest to cultivate oranges and plantains.
The hacienda already exports its coffee products to the United States and Europe, while also supplying the local market.
“Today, the infrastructure design of this beautiful plantation houses an ecological operation that clearly demonstrates the effort of a family dedicated to the land.
“With the goal of rescuing our coffee industry and increasing our local coffee production, the Department of Agriculture has provided several incentives and has signed cooperation contracts with coffee nurseries to enable the production of 16 million coffee trees.
“Hacienda Tres Ángeles is a family business that joined in the effort to rescue our mountain coffee, and its owner, farmer Juan Meléndez and his family, motivate their employees and other coffee growers to increase production of this precious grain to take it back to the honourable positioning its entitled to”, said Myrna Comas, secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture.
This agro-tourist hacienda represents the creation of 16 jobs for the management and maintenance of the plantation, aside from the 85 coffee collectors during harvest season (from September through December) and expects to create eight new direct jobs and 12 indirect jobs, for a total of 100 jobs that will help boost the Island’s economy.
Conscious about the growth potential that the agricultural tourism market has for the Island, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company created the Agricultural
Tourism Program, under the sustainability principle.
The PRTC consolidated an advisory council to establish the Agricultural Tourism Guide, while collaborating with the PRTC’s Sustainability Tourism Division.
“Today we celebrate that the inauguration of the Program is a reality with the official certification of Hacienda Tres Ángeles, as the first certified plantation by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s Agricultural Tourism Program.
“Soon we’ll certify other plantations in the municipalities of Las Marías, Yauco, Jauyuya, Ponce and Maricao, among others,” said the executive director.
“With the creation of this Program we are giving a new boost to job creation, and at the same time we are strengthening Puerto Rico’s image worldwide as a five-star destination,” concluded Rivera Rocafort.