The Barahona Tourist Cluster is not sure how many hotel rooms there are in the area, or how many visitors come by air, sea or land. They say those are concerns for the larger Dominican travel destinations. But, as reported in Listin Diario, the Cluster executives are concentrating their efforts on preserving their natural resources that are still pristine and little developed over the 1,650.49 square kilometers that make up the Barahona tourism destination.
As reported, the Barahona Cluster has been studying how other tourism destinations in the country have developed, and plan to learn from larger players’ mistakes. They conclude that they should promote community tourism, because they believe this will be of greatest benefit to the community.
During a meeting in Barahona, Cluster director Rafael Matos told the media: “We want to work with criteria of sustainability. We would like the economic trickle to reach the community. And that is why we are promoting community tourism”. The Barahona Ecotourism Cluster is working with the Dominican Sustainable Tourism Alliance, which is funded by the US Agency for International Development. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Spanish International Cooperation Agency (AECID), UNESCO, the German Development Cooperation Agency (GTZ) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) are also supporting the sustainable tourism initiative.
Matos says that numbers of travelers are not a priority right now. He says that it is good that the boom has not reached the area because it gives them time to plan, and avoid the mistakes made in other areas.
The work plan covers training micro and small tourism companies in using computers and the Internet, customer service, and arts and crafts. The Cluster also works to keep beaches clean and organized and to strengthen municipal management.
The efforts are also concentrated on remodeling the Barahona city center, creating new themed parks, and on the construction of a boulevard for the city’s Malecon seafront avenue. Another priority is to secure the construction of a tourism port. Authorities have committed RD$120 million.
“We are trying to improve our quality of life and only we ourselves can take control of this. No one from anywhere else is going to improve our quality of life and natural resources”. He said they are concerned that if they leave tourism development to others, they will be left only with the bad, as has happened in other areas.
Barahona has joined efforts with neighboring provinces Pedernales, Independencia and Bahoruco to offer varied excursions and natural attractions that focus on both the coastline and mountain attractions, exotic gastronomy, and some of the best views in the Caribbean.