Thursday, March 23, 2023

Espaillat seeks to be declared an ecotourism province

Nature provides destinations with unique identities. 80% of the goods and services of the Travel and Tourism sector depend in some way on the resources of nature and the surrounding ecosystems, according to the report “Positive Nature Travel and Tourism”. This is the case of the Espaillat province, which offers rivers such as Jamao al Norte, beaches located in Gaspar Hernández, gastronomy and culture in Moca, attractions that allow its 333,401 inhabitants to insert themselves into its value chain.

The president of the Espaillat Ecotourism Cluster (ProEspaillat), César Rosario, understands that a law for the tourism development of Espaillat will attract investment through the tax incentives offered by Law 158-01 “Promotion of Tourism Development”.

“We are educating the actors involved and we ask the Government to continue with the works that connect the main highways with tourist attractions, in addition to declaring the province as ecotourism,” Rosario explained.

And is not for less. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) affirms that wildlife is the main driver of ecotourism, an activity that contributes US$343 billion annually to the global economy and generates 21.8 million jobs. In Africa, with great natural attractions, tourism generates around US$142 million in entrance fees to protected areas.

In urban areas, the WTTC estimates that ecotourism accounts for 7% of the demand and has shown rapid growth in the last decade.

The cluster develops community tourism.

Espaillat has 120 rooms, and receives more than 20,000 people each week, which is equivalent to 80,000 monthly visitors and 1,040,000 annually. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines ecotourism as the activity that revolves around nature and the main motivation of tourists is the observation and appreciation of the natural environment. This modality provides opportunities for countries to grow and diversify their economies while protecting cultural heritage and conserving biodiversity.

Rosario said that with the emergence of the cluster in 2014, historical and cultural tourism has boomed. “This initiative arose to promote this new economic sector,” he added.

Tourist attractions

The director of ProEspaillat, Rosa Rivas, said that Moca offers cultural tourism that teaches the customs of the town, as well as historical events such as the heroic deed of 1861 immortalized in Plaza 2 de Mayo. Meanwhile, the 26 de Julio museum keeps alive the story of Jacobito de Lara, a key figure in the execution of the tyrant Ulises Hereaux, better known as Lilís, in 1899.

The entrance to the 26 de Julio museum costs RD$60.

“We entered the second room, the one that tells the story of Jacobito de Lara, one of the heroes who became a murderer, by murdering his girlfriend Emilia Michel, and suicide, by killing himself in a cell in Puerto Plata,” clarified the Guide of the Ministry of Culture.

This place received 4,960 visitors in 2022, with November being the period with the most visits with 618 people, followed by July and June with 575 and 556, respectively. Tourists pay RD$60 for the 35-minute tour, so the State received RD$297,600 from ticket office sales.


The Dominican Central Bank (BC) registers an economically active population of 4,398,400 until September 2022. 8.1% belong to the branch of hotels, bars and restaurants (tourism), that is, 359,892. But of this number of workers, 50.7% belong to the unregulated market (182,370) and the remaining 49.3% in the formal sector (177,522).

Rivas affirms that sustainable tourism is an alternative to promote activities that aim at the conscious use of cultural, natural and social resources.

Likewise, it allows the community to integrate into the value chain of the sector, the empowerment of women and supports sustainable development. One such case is María Victoria Brito, owner of Arte Helado.

“The ice cream parlor is a business that provides artisanal ice cream made with seasonal fruits free of chemical and industrialized processes, where people buy the flavors of coconut with amarena,” said the entrepreneur.

Between 15 and 20 people visit the business on Saturdays and Sundays, who buy packaged ice cream for RD$160 or a cone ball for RD$130. This means that if 15 tourists bought a cone with two flavors, Brito’s earnings were RD$3,900. The contribution to local production is one of the pillars that sustain the socioeconomic development of the province, since this business employs two locals.

In addition, tourists will find their typical dish at the 4F restaurant: mofongo. A chicharrón mofongo costs RD$550, while the mofongo made with shrimp costs RD$800.

On the other hand, the Dominican Republic received 1,335,825 passengers by air between January and February of this year, while the arrival of cruise passengers stood at 526,280, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism (Mitur).


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