Marine Tourism Alliance: Enhancing Tourism Competitiveness in the Dominican Republic
The tourism industry in the Dominican Republic (DR) is dependent on clean beaches, pristine water and healthy coral reefs, which protect the coast from erosion and are a target for the potential market of 20 million scuba divers and many more skin divers per year. However, the reefs of the DR are currently severely impacted by human activities, a number of which can be attributed to the thriving tourism industry.
A major goal of the country is to improve business competitiveness and establish the DR as tourism centre of the Caribbean and Central America by 2010.
In response to this goal, and the recognised need to prevent further damage to DR reefs through education and management, ICRAN developed a project alongside the Reef Check Foundation, with funding from the US Agency for International Development and the United Nations Foundation, to engage local partners and increase tourism revenue as a sustainable financing mechanism for coral reef conservation.
The DR Marine Tourism Alliance project aimed to transform the interaction between tourists and hotels into an enjoyable educational experience, leading to better conservation of coral reefs. The Alliance brought together partners with extensive experience in their fields to develop and market new products and services that are attractive to most tourist visitors on the island.
A programme was established that delivered training and knowledge about coral reefs, providing opportunities for participation in global coral reef monitoring activities. In this manner, tourists are able to become part of the conservation solution in the DR, helping to generate funds that will ensure local citizens can also participate in Reef Check monitoring and management activities. A long-term monitoring programme has been set up that will continue long past the project lifecycle.
The project ran between 2005 - 2007 and is now complete. Some achievements of the project include:
- During 2005, Reef Check Dominican Republic was legally created as an NGO
- Development of the Reef Check Multi-level EcoAction Programme
- Reef Check Adventures
- The Underwater Reef Guide
- Discover Reef Check
- Reef Check Eco Diver
- Reef Check Eco Expeditions
- 3278 sales of EcoAction products during project cycle
- 24 Dive centres, resorts and gift shops trained in offering EcoAction as part of their regular operations
- 100+ Eco divers trained
- 26 Eco diver Instructors trained
- 75 Countrywide reef monitoring surveys, developing a robust database on coral reef health
- Gave rise to activities that will continue past the term of the project such as:
Punta Rucia- RCDR is working with the local community to create a programme that will incorporate sustainable ecotourism, watershed management, reef monitoring, alternative livelihoods, and capacity building for marine park management and enforcement.
- Punta Cana- RCDR is working with existing tourism operators to adopt Best Practices for all aspects of their operations, and Fundaci�n Ecol�gica, to collaborate in the establishment of a no-take zone, a coral reef health monitoring program and to support the fishermen community in Punta Cana.
- La Caleta � An MoU has been signed between the Sub-Ministry of Protected Areas for the Co-management of the park, that will serve as a pilot project for replication in other DR MPAs
- US $60,000 in leveraged funds
- Locally led conservation projects
- Assisting the Environmental Police in developing a marine and coastal enforcement strategy
- Long term national monitoring programme
- Worldwide dissemination of EcoAction, with 250 Eco diver Instructors trained to date
To find out more about the EcoAction programme or to purchase products, go to www.reefcheck.org