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Dominican Republic holidays may lose up to US$100m on ruined coasts

A recent report by the World Resources Institute has given a major warning to the Dominican Republic that if plans to develop mass tourism and mining around natural reserves, the coastal areas would be ruining costing the Dominican travel industry US$1m.

Dominican Republic holidays may lose up to US$100m on ruined coasts

The plausibility of enriching, natural Dominican Republic holidays is looking grim in the future as the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Reef Check-Dominican Republic revealed in a recent report that the degradation of the country’s coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs and mangroves, could be costing the Dominican tourism industry nearly USD $100 million.

Carrying out similar analyses for Tobago, St. Lucia and Belize, the report added that this gradual degradation threatens the livelihoods of many Dominican fishermen who are highly dependable on these ecosystems for survival.

“Coral reefs and mangroves provide many valuable benefits or ‘ecosystem services’ to the people and economy of the Dominican Republic,” –expressed a concerned Lauretta Burke, senior associate at WRI.

They help build beaches and slow erosion, draw millions of local and international tourists to the coasts, and provide habitat for valuable fisheries. However, these ecosystems are being degraded by pollution and overfishing – threatening both the local and national economy” – Burk went on to explain.

Over-fishing is another critical issue that has taken a toll on the country’s fisheries. Estimating that the income from reef- or mangrove-dependent fisheries has decreased by 60 % in the past decade – from USD $41 million to $17 million, this downward slope is gravely endangering the survival of many Dominican fishermen, and will continue unless over-fishing is curbed.

Better enforcement of fishing regulations, coupled with increased dive tourism in the country’s marine parks, could be a win-win solution for both fish populations and the fishermen that depend on them", the report said.

To address the problem of beach erosion, a major cause of concern that could pose serious trouble to the image Dominican Republic holidays give to worldwide tourists, the country has regulations to control coastal development. Recommendations from the report suggest that the government should take more steps strengthen and enforce existing regulations. It also recommends that if serious damage to the Dominican Republic holidays industry wants to be avoided, the government should also implement new measures to protect coral reefs from sediment and pollution from agriculture, deforestation, and coastal development.

Coastal Capital also examined the economic benefits of the market for national Dominican Republic holidays in Jaragua, Sierra de Bahoruco, and Lago Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve. Tourists who come to enjoy Dominican Republic holidays in these regions – mostly Dominican citizens – spend more than USD $1 million annually on hotel, food, and travel expenses to visit the Reserve. In view of current plans to develop mass tourism and mining in and around the park, the report argues that the Reserve and surrounding areas should be kept as they currently stand. This would preserve the Reserve’s fragile biodiversity, benefit Dominican tourists, and benefit roadside communities where tourists pay for food and lodging, some of which are located in poor, rural areas.

On a final note, Burke added “Coral reefs and mangroves are inextricably linked to national economies, bringing in revenue from tourism and fisheries and protecting the coastline. Our valuations of coral reefs and mangroves in four Caribbean countries have all found that it is in their long-term economic interest to protect coastal ecosystems.”

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