Driving tourism back to Puerto Rico is a business priority as it continues to feel the effects of a devastating hurricane season in late 2017. Known for its pristine beaches and colorful coral reefs, restoring life underwater is among the many ways Bacardi and Mercy Corps are helping promote tourism, a major source of income for many communities on the island. With funding by Bacardi and others, Mercy Corps teamed up with residents, business owners and tourists for two underwater clean ups at Rompeolas, a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
The two dive activities resulted in the collection of 500 pounds of trash, including anchors, fishing sinkers and hooks. Dive teams also removed fishing line that became tangled during the 2017 hurricane season. Not only is the line unsafe for tourists and locals looking for a refreshing swim, but also for hawksbill turtles which live in the area and are on the endangered species list.
Rompeolas is among the locations chosen by Mercy Corps because they have been largely overlooked by aid efforts despite being a popular tourist destination. Bacardi previously supported another underwater program in partnership with Mercy Corps at the beaches of Culebra where divers helped restore coral reefs.
“Puerto Rico is at the heart of our BACARDÍ rum production and we are committed to the long-term recovery of the island and the people,” says Rick Wilson, SVP Global Corporate Responsibility for family-owned Bacardi. “Our family values make doing the right thing a priority and partners like Mercy Corps allows us to extend our support to communities in need.”
As home to Casa BACARDÍ Visitor Center and the world’s largest premium rum distillery in the world, the recovery of Puerto Rico is a priority for Bacardi. In 2018, the company provided a USD $1 million grant to Mercy Corps to drive longer term rebuilding and recovery, providing support to small business owners and tourism recovery in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Martin.
Bacardi Corporation was founded in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1936, and is part of family-owned Bacardi Limited, the largest privately held spirits company in the world. The current facility in Puerto Rico was built in 1958 on 127 acres in the town of Cataño. The rum production facility is the largest premium rum distillery in the world, and one of the more than 20 Bacardi manufacturing facilities globally. Since 1961, Bacardi has operated the state-of-the-art Casa BACARDÍ Visitor Center, the second most-visited venue in metro San Juan, drawing nearly 200,000 visitors a year to learn about the 157-year-old history of the company, the Bacardí family, as well as its unique rum production.
Previously published in the 3BL Media newsroom.