Dominican Republic Sustainable Travel Guide
The great colonial city of Santo Domingo was known as the first city in the new world after Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. By 1498 it housed the first cathedral, hospital and university of the Americas. Fast forward to present day, the Dominican Republic is now known as one of the most popular resort destinations in the world. And it’s no wonder why: crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, excellent surfing, waterskiing, snorkelling, whale watching and so much more.
This all sounds great until you dive deeper into the resort holiday industry. Environmental implications, such as the destruction of sensitive habitat for the construction of resorts; or the amount of natural resources used and wasted in the resorts are just a couple of examples of the negative impacts of all-inclusive resorts. By in large however, the biggest symptom may be what is known as economic leakage.
Economic leakage occurs when local economies lose money or never receive money generated from tourism. This poses a serious problem for the economy in the Dominican Republic where all-inclusive resorts are increasingly popular amongst tourists. The problem is when you book an all-inclusive holiday, everything is paid up front, such as the flight, hotel, food, drinks, and entertainment. This sounds convenient for the guests, but is bad news for the restaurants, bars, shops, and other local establishments outside the resort. And once you’ve paid for everything, you may not want to spend more money elsewhere, keeping all of your travel dollars within the resort. This means the majority of the money you spend goes towards a large private company as profit, as opposed to local businesses or the local economy.
Venturing outside the resort is worth the effort and can make your experience in the Dominican Republic much more rewarding. Excellent hiking can be had, such as up the mountain peak of Pico Duarte, the highest in the Caribbean. Jaragua National Park boasts the largest area of biodiversity in the Antilles. The country also hosts several carnivals and festivals throughout the year where non-stop dancing and flowing rum can make for one truly unforgettable experience.
The Dominican Republic has long based their tourism on all-inclusive resorts. But today, there are a number of high quality boutique hotels available that serve as much better alternatives. Most have great reviews and contain all of the amenities you’d need. By staying at small boutique hotels, you also mitigate the symptoms of economic leakage as your travel dollars will stay within the country. So don’t be afraid to venture outside the realm of all-inclusive resorts if you’re planning a trip to the Dominican Republic. Paradise truly awaits outside their gilded gates.