Supporting and managing the growth and development of sustainable tourism in the Dominican Republic
- Client: USAID – Dominican Republic Sustainable Tourism Alliance (DSTA)
- Partners: Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance (GSTA), Consejo Nacional de Competitvidad
- Project Duration: October 2007 – September 2012
The Dominican Republic has already built a strong tourism industry—in 1972, the DR had only 1,600 hotel rooms; today it has over 60,000. While the industry has been successful to date, it faces new challenges brought on by rapid worldwide economic growth and, most importantly, a change in consumer demand towards sustainable tourism. Specifically, the DR needs to find ways to evolve from it’s antiquated “all-inclusive” model and transform its numerous natural, historical, and cultural tourism assets into a thriving sustainable tourism industry that addresses the DR’s major social, economic and environmental issues, including widespread poverty, slow economic expansion, and environmental degradation.
The purpose of the USAID-Dominican Republic Sustainable Tourism Alliance’s (DSTA) is to increase small and medium business growth in an environmentally sustainable manner through market-driven sustainable tourism development linkage programs, cluster activities, and a reinvention of the tourism offerings on fragile coastal and inland environments. To conserve biodiversity and better manage the country’s natural resource base, the DSTA brought together a world-class team of individuals and institutions from the public, private, and NGO sectors as well as leading national, regional, and international tourism industry enterprises, of which Solimar was a part, to address the multi-dimensional aspects of sustainable tourism in the DR.
- Developing DMOs: Moving the clusters developed under USAID’s Competitiveness and Policy Program (La Romana-Bayahibe, Jarabacoa, Barahona, Puerto Plata, Altagracia, and Samaná), and the newly-formed clusters in Pedernales, Santo Domingo, and Constanza, towards self-sufficiency and sustainability, transforming them into functioning Destination Management Organizations (DMOs).
- Building capacity: Improving environmental management capabilities and stimulating small, medium, and community-based tourism efforts through training in sustainable tourism operations and the development of marketing and sales strategies.
- Identifying more tourism offerings: Reinvention of the tourist offerings on fragile coastal and inland environments as well as developing sustainable tourism packages and day trips geared more towards adventure, culture, and nature, not just “sun and sand.”
- Establishing strategic alliances: Developing and managing strategic alliances and management agreements to facilitate sustainable tourism development and destination stewardship.
- 9 self-sustained Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) with completed business plans, sales and marketing strategies, and pilot projects.
- 20 small, medium, and community-based tourism enterprises supported with completed business plans, training in tourism operations and with sales and marketing strategies that connect them to international tourism markets.
- Tourism product development and training methodologies developed for the DR and transferred to local actors through a network of cluster mechanisms known as the Dominican Tourism Competitiveness Council to continue supporting the goals of the DSTA.
- Development of “Dominican Treasures”, a Sales and Marketing Alliance supported by the consorcio which will provide continued assistance to a number of small and community-based tourism enterprises throughout the country.
- Sustainable tourism packages and day tours developed to collectively change the image of the Dominican Republic as solely a sun and sand destination to a more versatile destination that includes adventure tourism, ecotourism, and cultural and historical tourism.
- Creation of at least 5 strategic alliances and 3 co-management agreements that formalize actions, roles, and responsibilities for destination stewardship by local communities thus promoting economic livelihood and political empowerment.