2024 Travel News ArchiveTravel

Six challenges to keep Dominican tourism doing well

Diario Libre editorial page news analyst, lawyer and university professor Jose Luis Taveras wrote this past week about what was headlined in the newspaper “Five Brief Steps to Kill Tourism”.

In an alert to the government and the industry, the acute writer pinpoints the contributions tourism makes, but also its vulnerability. He mentions tourism is susceptible more than any other economic activity to viruses, plagues, natural catastrophes, citizen insecurity, political crisis, and rumors. More so, he stresses the tourism industry depends on how source markets do and on how the world is going.

He mentions the sector has boomed given the support of the government to the private sector in infrastructure, promotion and fiscal incentives. Today tourism contributes 16% of the GDP. The DR leads the industry in the Caribbean, and tourism in the DR is only second in volume in Latin America to Mexico

But Taveras criticizes the concentration on all-inclusive accommodations and warns about the degrading of the environment and tourism locations, road insecurity, judicial insecurity and what he calls the “euphoric counting of tourists.”

All-inclusive tourism model
While major hotel chains such as Marriott, Hyatt and others are betting on upscale all-inclusives today and everyday operating more of these in the Dominican Republic, precisely what Taveras recommends, the writer is critical of the model of all-inclusive tourism that operates as gated tourism. He mentions the resorts are a kind of cloister where the tourists are disconnected from the community where the hotel is located.

Degrading of the area outside the resorts
Today, tax laws in effect, exempt the hotels from paying many local taxes, affecting the city government finances. He warns that without better coordination between business people, the government, the local city governments and the communities, tourism is not sustainable.

He highlights that tourism destinations attract labor that comes from other places and these demand housing and services that may be scarce, resulting in slum pockets that affect security. He calls for better planning and integration of hotels and government. “The hoteliers should not unload responsibilities on the government,” he writes.

Road insecurity
He says Dominicans have yet to realize the country is suffering from an epidemic of tragic road accidents. He says every year more tourists are becoming victims of these. He says international tourist guides are already warning about this situation. “In any other parts of the world, similar statistics would cause a national emergency state. Here they are assumed as a cultural trait,” he writes.

Judicial insecurity
He called for the rule of the law and clear judicial rules, where administrative decisions are based on the law not the discretion of the authorities.

The euphoric counting of tourists
“To celebrate with firecrackers the number of tourists is a trap,” he writes. He says the country has been valuing tourists based on numbers, not quality.

“Being aware of the quantity can generate an environment of conformity with the results and not attention to the causes that give rise to those results,” he warns.

He writes the government should emphasize keeping high standards in facilities and urges attracting leading brands. This recommendation the government has been doing in recent years, with the big US players opening new hotels here and the tourism sector diversifying into luxury, sports and medical tourism major initiatives.

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Diario Libre
Forbes

20 February 2024