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A Biological Border Model for Puerto Rico

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For the last decade, Foundation for Puerto Rico has been committed to identifying new, high impact opportunities for Puerto Rico’s economic transformation.

We have argued for the economic growth opportunity that would come with the development of our island as an experiential destination for visitors and for the creation of a non-governmental Destination Marketing Organization to promote it. As a result, new records have been set for the number of visitors and total economic activity generated. After Hurricane Maria, we undertook efforts to ensure the rebuilding of our destination happened from the “bottom up”, creating opportunities for local communities and small businesses throughout the island, particularly outside of the metro area.

Once again, our island is faced with great economic challenges we haven’t seen in a generation, and Foundation for Puerto Rico is focused on identifying key areas that would benefit from attention, investment, and refreshed policy implementation to ensure we can truly recover and transform towards a better future. Like we say: “There is no future in rebuilding the past.” And within the extraordinary disruption that this crisis brings, unexpected opportunities can arise.

The Biological Border Model we present here proposes to restore tourism and our visitor destination within a far shorter time frame than conventional thinking would have us believe while at the same time protecting us from a new burden of infection that could enter our island on every arriving flight. The concept, as we define it, is the integration of various systems including COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, quarantine measures, and legal rules or requirements that visitors to Puerto Rico through Luis Muñoz Marín’s airport – and other future points of entry – must comply with. Making this happen requires us to adopt and integrate emerging solutions in an agile and imaginative fashion.

In the following pages, we describe what needs to be done to fully implement the airport biological border. If we can come together and work towards this vision, we can dramatically accelerate Puerto Rico’s economic recovery while protecting locals and visitors alike. It could make the difference between another decade of economic retrenchment or for us to leapfrog to success and for Puerto Rico to shine in this new era of COVID-19, presenting itself to the world as a safe and healthy destination.

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