Promoting sustainable tourism in the Dominican Republic: Dominican legislation and investor commitment 

January 23, 2024

Authors: María Álvarez and Ney De La Rosa

Over the last decades, tourism development in the Dominican Republic has maintained a steady growth, making the country the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean (and the ninth worldwide), according to the Traveler’s Choice Best of the Best 2023 award published by Trip Advisor.

At times, this tourism development has become environmentally aggressive by not always implementing best practices and internationally accepted uses to reduce the negative environmental impact generated by the tourism industry, which affects its sustainability.

Dominican regulations that mitigate the negative impact on the ecosystem
The failure to apply the best methods in solid and organic waste management processes, the disposal and processing of sewage generated by the industry, practices aimed at reducing the impact of tourist buildings on the ecosystems in which they are developed, among other factors, affect the sustainability of tourism.

In view of this, and in order to mitigate the effects of irresponsible practices, the Dominican State created various regulations to moderate such customs and their consequences, among which we cite the following regulations and legislation:

– General Law of Comprehensive Management and Co-processing of Solid Waste No. 225-20.
– Law 57-07 on Incentives for the Development of Renewable Energy Sources and their Special Regimes and its amendments.
– Law No. 368-22 on Territorial Planning, Land Use and Human Settlements.
– General Health Law No. 42-01, which provides for the treatment of sewage.

Investors show interest in promoting responsible tourism
Based on this reality, and on national and international efforts in favor of responsible tourism that guarantees economic sustainability and, in accordance with the best environmental practices, the main players in the tourism sector in the Dominican Republic have shown greater interest in protecting the environment.

These stakeholders include the Dominican government, tourism promoters and investors who seek to reduce the environmental impact of responsible tourism, promote the conservation of natural and cultural resources, and support the economic and social development of Dominican communities.

Consequently, investors have a strong interest in aligning their Dominican tourism projects with the objectives of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in order to promote tourism that favors the conservation of biodiversity, ecosystems and social welfare, by integrating local communities, creating jobs and promoting the economic growth of tourism in the areas where they develop their projects.

Environmental awareness grows among tourists and the tourism industry
The vision of responsible tourism is also driven by the environmental awareness of tourists, reflected in their choice of tourist destinations and in their interest in interacting with the social environment of those destinations.

Likewise, the tourism industry also reflects environmental awareness from the planning, design and construction of tourism projects, to the administration of water resources, waste control, control in the use and management of energy and the promotion of the natural resources of the environment.

Also, the industry evidences responsible tourism in the interaction with the local community and its culture, which are fundamental to create the unique and memorable experience that tourists seek.

Positive impact of sustainable tourism in the Dominican Republic
These initiatives and key aspects of sustainable tourism in the Dominican Republic guarantee the sustainability of the industry and a substantial improvement in the tourist experience.

At the same time, they encouraged the increase in jobs, with the increase in commerce and economic activities in the communities, and have contributed to the reduction of poverty, labor informality and social exclusion in the communities.

It is evident that the Dominican Republic continues its commitment to developing responsible tourism practices that balance economic growth with environmental protection and the preservation of Dominican culture.