Tourism June 9, 2023 | 9:43 am

Sargasso disrupts tourist and commercial activities on Dominican beaches

Santo Domingo.- The coasts of the Dominican Republic are currently plagued by an overwhelming amount of sargassum, leading to significant challenges for beachgoers and the tourism industry. The few individuals who still venture to the beaches quickly retreat due to the inconvenience caused by the presence of the seaweed.

During a visit to Guayacanes, Juan Dolio, and Boca Chica beaches on Thursday morning, it became evident that this environmental issue is devastating Dominican tourism, as expressed by a local park attendant from La Caleta.

In recent months, the Boca Chica City Council has had to remove between 1,500 and 2,000 thousand tons of sargassum using trucks. The accumulation of algae emits a foul odor that is not only unpleasant for visitors but also jeopardizes the livelihoods of numerous businesses that rely on tourism.

Conversations with local fish vendors reveal the panic that has gripped those who depend on coastal food sales. They describe the current situation as extremely challenging, with significantly reduced income compared to previous years. Even on a holiday like Corpus Christi, which would typically attract a large number of tourists who support local businesses, vendors struggle to meet demand due to a lack of available fish.

The influx of both foreign and Dominican visitors has drastically declined due to the escalating sargassum problem, impacting not only the beach areas but also the tourist hotels.

Wanda Méndez, a visitor to Guayacanes, expressed her frustration at the situation. She recounted how she had to search for a beach where her daughters could swim, highlighting the difficulty of finding a spot without large accumulations of algae.

In the absence of official efforts to clean the beaches, local merchants have taken matters into their own hands to preserve their source of income. Individuals like Alfredo, Nelson, Mario, Kirli, and Virginia, who sell food and offer massages to tourists, have been taking the initiative to clean the coastlines. Armed with black covers, they tirelessly clean the beaches from early morning to mitigate the presence of sargassum.

These individuals undertake these cleanup efforts out of their own concern for the situation, recognizing that their businesses and families rely on the appeal of the beaches. While the officials appear unaffected by the problem, these dedicated individuals prioritize the cleanliness of the beaches as a vital aspect of their livelihoods.

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Peter Harris
June 10, 2023 4:32 pm

Thanks for the article. The tourism ministry MITUR sent in over 50 soldiers a few weeks ago to Playa Pescador. They cleared some sargassum and buried it in a giant hole. They they left the beach a mess with a large pile of sand still in place. It was only this year that over $140 million pesos was invested on new buildings. But MITUR removed all the parking . So no place to park. Then they did nothing about the sargassum which rotted on the beach. It should be removed on a regular basis the day it arrives when it is light & clean. It is great fertilizer for gardens on the rocky fields in Guayacanes. Accion ambiental Guayacanes AAG sent recommendations but cannot get any response from MITUR.

June 10, 2023 9:39 pm
Reply to  Peter Harris

I was just thinking there has got to be a way to use this stuff as fertilizer.
Is there a smell that makes it prohibitive? Even so it can probably be mixed with other sources, but that’s just a guess.

Peter Harris
June 12, 2023 4:41 pm
Reply to  Mike

I have spread it out over rocky terrain in Guayacanes. It becomes black without smell. It is like walking on a carpet. The soil here needs all the help it can get . If you leave it in piles, then there is a smell for awhile. Especially along the beach where there are now huge piles !