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The Dominican Republic Must Enhance Sustainable Tourism to Reduce Costs and Achieve Greater Social Development

Santo Domingo, May 19, 2017

Within the framework of Expo Feria CTN, Emma Fawcett, GFDD Fellow and adjunct professor from American University; Ambassador Juan Carlos Mendoza García, representative of the Costa Rica Mission to the United Nations, and Frank Raineri, president and CEO of the Puntacana Group, discusse this topic.

The need for the Dominican Republic to develop sustainable tourism beyond the successes that have already been achieved, such as those by the Puntacana Group, was presented in the panel “Sustainable Tourism in the Dominican Republic” on Friday, May 19.

GFDD/Funglode participated in the presentation by GFDD Fellow Emma Fawcett, who, through a video, presented some of the results from the book Retos del crecimiento sostenible a través del turismo en la República Dominicana / Challenges for Sustainable Growth Through Tourism in the Dominican Republic, from the RESEARCH AND IDEAS series, produced by Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD)/Funglode.

Fawcett, a doctoral candidate from American University, completed her field research in the Dominican Republic through the InteRDom Fellows Program in September 2014.

She identified four challenges: guaranteeing that economic development reaches the most disadvantaged in the country; generating growth in basic services and infrastructure in accordance with touristic development; concerns for the environment and the carrying capacity of ecosystems, and the modernization of fiscal incentives.

The research presents some recommendations to overcome these challenges. Among them, the inclusion of issues related to poverty in the agenda of tourism; the diversification of touristic products; independent analysis of the value chain of the touristic sector to evaluate economic links and improve statistics about tourism and improving environmental management and conserving public access to beaches.

The panel was also composed of Ambassador Juan Carlos Mendoza García, representative of the Costa Rica Mission to the United Nations and Frank Raineri, president & CEO of Puntacana Group.

Ambassador Mendoza spoke about sustainable tourism in the framework of the United Nations and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He claimed that one of the most significant points that the 2030 Agenda presents is the modification of production and consumption patterns. “Change is not small, but, rather, is radical,” he expressed.

Mendoza emphasized the experience of Costa Rica with the development of sustainable tourism, and economic indicators related to that, such as its social impact. He underlined the 5.4 percent GDP growth in that country.

Raineri spoke about the experience of his business with environmental sustainability. He argued that it is necessary to seek a balance between environmental and social sustainability. “We cannot speak about environmental sustainability and forget about social sustainability,” he noted.

Raineri cited the construction of the Punta Cana International Airport, which utilized tree branches and rocks, which had to be removed from the runway and parking lots, to construct the roof and the walls. They decided to make an open structure as to not need to use air conditioning and to take advantage of natural light, thereby reducing the consumption of electric energy during the day.

The boss of Puntacana Group explained that his gold courses utilize recycled water and, in 2016 alone, recycled 1,000,000,000 gallons. Using food waste to produce compost is another sustainable strategy incorporated by the Punta Cana Group, expressed Rainieri.

The event took place within the framework of the Expo Feria CTN and was led by the president of CTN, Miguel Calzada. It included the presence of Marco Herrera, executive director of Funglode; Yamile Eusebio, co-director of GFDD; the minister of environment, Francisco Domínguez Brito; the president of the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants, Joel Santos, among others from the touristic sector, students and the general public.

The meeting was one of the conferences that the United Nations is promoting to designate 2017 as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”