Tourism July 24, 2018 | 2:45 pm

How to develop tourism in Dominican Republic’s Southwest

Pedernales, Dominican Republic.- The development of Pedernales’ (southwest) tourism offer faces the hurdles of connectivity, little diversification, trash, lack of infrastructure and quality personnel, as well as a high informality.

The statement is in the study “Strengthening rural value chains” of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) that suggests several measures to reverse the situation.

On access, it cites Pedernales’ lack of an air link, since its airport can only handle small planes and helicopters, and the nearest international airport, Barahona, doesn’t receive visitors continuously. As to the roads they are not suitable for fluid traffic.

“There’s little knowledge about the tourism sector at the local level, which is why many businesses start informally and then face difficulties due to the lack of infrastructure and the necessary technical and administrative skills.” the study noted.

And though it labels the Pedernales tourism cluster the main representative for local tourism business leaders, it hasn’t been consolidated due to high informality of the companies, lack of training and lack of trust of some sectors.

Bahia de las Aguilas

“Other difficulties are lack of a tourism culture and low promotion of Pedernales as a destination, since the authorities only promote Bahía de las Águilas,” the study cautions.

Failures to access the water needed for tourism were also identified, since the main source is the Pedernales River, but the near-permanent drought, deforestation and excessive use have turned it into a trickle.

Other limitations are the high cost of energy and the uncertainty about land ownership.

Environment

Almost 70% of the province is within a protected area, which can offer ecotourism if environmental challenges are surmounted.

Suggestions

ECLAC proposes a series of measures which can jumpstart Pedernales’ tourism development, including relocating the Cabo Rojo cement plant because it’s not compatible with tourism, map the farming area and comprehensively manage water resources to guarantee water access.

Also devise formulas for an ecotourism destination; promote a tourist culture in Pedernales, since it currently lacks the conditions to treat tourists well, and develop a complementary offer in the Southwest, since it’s still one of the country’s least visited regions due to its limited infrastructure.

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