2000 Travel News ArchiveTravel

Relocating of beach vendors is difficult job

The Ministry of Tourism has begun a program to relocate handicraft vendors in the North Coast. Negligence on behalf of municipal authorities and the authorities of the Central Bank (Definpro) has led to the growth in the number of shacks and vendors located in beaches, a situation that in many areas, such as Sosua Beach has gotten out of hand. In Sosua more than 300 vendors seem to occupy a larger portion of the beach with their shacks than that is left for the public visiting the beach. In Sosua, the Ministry of Tourism recently salvaged about 10% of the beach, with vendor shacks dismantled near the Hotel Los Coralillos. But the situation is difficult as many of the vendors have years operating there, and say they have permits of the municipality of Sosua. The situation also involves many foreigners who say they have purchased the rights to do business there from the original beneficiaries of the permits. The legality of the original permits is questioned. The Sosua case is aggravated because of the difficulty in finding where the vendors would accept to relocate to. So far, vendors and their shacks have been dismantled at the Costa Dorada-Mara Picá beach area. They are being relocating to provisional tents in an authorized area within the nearby Playa Dorada complex. The dismantling of vendors and their shacks in the nearby Playa Dorada beach is being accomplished in a more gradual manner. The authorized mobile vendors (Azulados), about 80, have been divided into two groups of 40 and are now only allowed to sell on separate days. Eventually, the plan is to relocate these and those known as Anaranjados, a group of 40-60 vendors to the new handicraft plaza that will go up at the location of the horse stables of Playa Dorada. Meanwhile, the vendors that have been displaced by the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourist Police are holding protests today in Puerto Plata. Will the Ministry of Tourism be able to continue with its plan to relocate the vendors, peacefully or forcibly is yet to be seen. Other north coast beaches that are affected by this situation are Playa Grande and Caletón, where vendors have been allowed to locate despite legal prohibitions to the effect. (5 December 2000)