The local non-profit organization, Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR), delivered on its commitment to revitalize and strengthen the island's tourism assets to drive sustainable development through the Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative (Bottom Up) program.
Thanks to a $125,000 donation from FPR, and in collaboration with the National Parks Agency and the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., the Camuy River Cave Park will reopen its doors to the public beginning today, March 24.
The donation, the largest made among the groups that contributed to the initiative, was awarded to this important project through a grant from the Peter Alfond Foundation, a private entity based in Maine that supports efforts focused on education, health, and economic development.
The contribution was used to finance the creation of safety rails throughout the facilities, the installation of a security gate inside the main cave, fresh paint for the visitor’s theater, updating the theater’s audiovisual system, the renovation of the ticket office, and for improvements to other areas throughout the park.
“With this initiative, Foundation for Puerto Rico remains committed to strengthening and fostering socioeconomic development. The rehabilitation of emblematic attractions such as the Camuy Caves is essential because they help attract a significant influx of visitors to the areas where they are located, thus strengthening the economies and social environments of underserved communities in Puerto Rico. We are identifying these iconic assets across the island and launching collaborative efforts to revitalize them. The effort to restore and promote these assets is increasingly urgent as the island and the world advance in their post-pandemic normalization processes,” said Jon Borschow, CEO of FPR.
Carlos Ayala, program manager for Bottom Up in the Camuy and Arecibo region, added that, “we are proud to contribute to the reopening of this natural treasure and its heritage. The Bottom Up program and team seek to make communities more resilient and proactive in creating tourism assets and experiences. Our work enables communities to increase the value and scope of their tourism offerings. This will help boost the socioeconomic development of our communities, fostering the creation of a business ecosystem that promotes job creation and professional development in the region.”
Since its creation in 2017 by FPR, Bottom Up has impacted 14 municipalities, leading initiatives to support sustainable social and economic growth in the communities.
The program works from by identifying key natural, cultural, and social assets for the region’s economic development, and focused on the recovery, revitalization, and acceleration of these assets. It also supports small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as nonprofits and community groups, on issues related to organizational and financial capacity, resilience, emergency management, and tourism. The work is undertaken to develop a destination plan from and for the community.
Camuy Caves Now Open
Starting today, people will be able to visit to the Camuy River Cave Park. Visitors are required to make a reservation by calling 787-898-3100.
The park will accept approximately six groups of up to 20 people –adults and children– from Wednesday to Sunday, from 8:00 a.m. at 4:30 p.m. Although this is a partial opening, visitors will be able to enjoy some of the park’s charms, among them its main attraction, the Cueva Clara (Clear Cave).
The Camuy River Caverns are an important asset in Puerto Rico’s northern region. It is a cave system located among the municipalities of Camuy, Hatillo and Lares. The caverns are part of a large network of natural limestone caves and underground waterways carved out by the third largest underground river in the world, the Camuy River.
More than 10 miles of caverns, 220 caves, and 17 entrances to the Camuy cave system have been mapped. However, this is only a fraction of the entire system, which many experts believe still contains another 800 caves.
The 268-acre park, managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA, its Spanish acronym) and built around the cave system, is one of the most popular natural attractions in Puerto Rico. Prior to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the park received more than 80,000 visitors a year, representing an annual economic activity of between $600,000 and $1.4 million.
For more information about Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative, visit http://bit.ly/395IGEa