Travelers nowadays take more things into consideration when choosing the right tourist destination for them. Most people know the Dominican Republic for its beautiful beaches, but luckily it is a land full of surprises. Natural attractions are impressively abundant and are full of contrasts. From the highest to the lowest point in the Caribbean, mountains, beaches, dunes, caves, waterfalls, abundant marine life, and flora will never cease to amaze you. The cherry on top are Dominicans, the friendliest and most hospitable people you’ll meet, besides the rich culture manifested in the gastronomy, music, architecture and carnival.
The Dominican Republic is a tropical paradise, but it is not isolated from the rest of the world and the impact of global warming. The country is very well aware of that. That is why traditional tourism is changing and new practices are being implemented to protect the beautiful nature everyone loves. So let your mind be at ease and completely relax in the Dominican Republic.
Here is an example of the responsible tourism practices that are implemented. This is something that is growing more and more throughout the country and in different types of businesses.
Puntacana Group’s Sustainable Tourism Model
(Photo Credits Puntacana Group)
Puntacana Group’s vision is not only changing them as a corporation, but also impacting the entire Punta Cana and neighboring communities of Verón and Higüey, as well as the way responsible tourism is practiced. They are pioneers in the tourism industry, masters in innovation and serve as an example for other corporations. It is truly remarkable what they have achieved through the joint efforts with the Dominican Government and international private companies and non-for-profit organizations in improving every single aspect of tourism and the quality of life of the less fortunate, whilst protecting the environment in an unprecedented way, not just now, but many years ago.
There is no improvisation here. Everything is well thought out, studied, and carefully planned long term. Puntacana Foundation’s environmental and social projects are impressively varied. We encourage you to visit their website to learn more about it. Here we’ll share the most significant ones.
Co-Management of Southeast Reef Marine Sanctuary
This public-private coalition works on the conservation and restoration of marine biodiversity in an area of almost 8,000 km2, making it one of the largest marine protected areas in the Caribbean. It also improves tourist attractions, creates new jobs and opportunities in the fishing and eco-tourism sectors, and increases resilience confronting climate change.
Center for Sustainability
Established through a collaboration with Cornell University, it addresses environmental and social challenges in Caribbean tourism. It involves prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, Roger Williams University, etc. It protects and restores the Dominican Republic’s unique species and develops innovative sustainability projects. The Foundation shares the lessons learned from its projects, both their successes and their failures, through various environmental education programs.
Center for Marine Innovation
The state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to marine conservation, restoration, and management. It works with diverse partners to conduct research, environmental education, and active management and restoration projects.
Coral Conservation and Restoration Program
In partnership with Counterpart International and the University of Miami, it includes various coral species. It involves collecting coral fragments, nurturing them in underwater nurseries, and transplanting them back onto the reef. It explores different methodologies, conducts workshops and research, and advocates for coral gardening worldwide.
Residents and business partners actively participate in the recycling program to help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. This reduces potential health problems caused by improper waste management, protects the local community from landfill contamination, and helps make Punta Cana a better place to live.
Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park & Reserve
1,500 acres of land as a private nature reserve for educational, scientific, and recreational purposes. This transitional subtropical forest contains a mix of flora and fauna from both humid and dry habitats. It has more than 500 species of plants, 36% of which are endemic to the Dominican Republic. The land was originally inhabited by the Taíno, the first inhabitants of the island. Within the reserve are 12 freshwater lagoons formed by Yauya, an underground river that breaks the surface due to the geological features of the region. Each of the lagoons have been named using Taíno words. The new trail entrance was remodeled and built with a Taíno sculpture called Cemí.
Sea Turtle Conservation
Along with different organizations, there is organized monitoring of the beach, identification and proactive interventions of turtle nests and release of tens of thousands of baby turtles. Modifications to the coastal lighting and planting of native flora near local beaches is done to protect the nests.
Ridgway’s Hawk Conservation
There are collaborative programs to conserve the Ridgway’s hawk, one of the most endangered species on the island. Currently, a population of more than 120 Ridgway’s hawks and dozens of breeding hawk pairs are on the property.
Endemic rhinoceros iguanas are in a recreated natural habitat, which serves as a conservation station for this protected species.
Learn about the impressive world of bees and the production of the renowned Puntacana Forest Honey.
A station that ecologically converts organic waste into worm humus, used as fertilizer for gardens and golf courses.
A sustainable system of fish and vegetable production that combines traditional aquaculture (aquatic animal husbandry) with hydroponics (plants growing without soil in water) in an integrated environment. The fish waste provides organic food for the growing plants and the plants naturally filter the water in which the fish live.
Natural Vegetable and Fruit Farming
An all-natural production, using orchards and greenhouses.
An initiative to encourage the consumption of local products and food grown in a sustainable way. It is held every 15 days in Galerías Puntacana, in alliance with producers and entrepreneurs of the community.
It specializes in products produced by the Foundation's projects, such as organic honey, vegetables and fruits, worm compost, purses made with recycled materials and other products made by local artisans and producers.
(Photo Credits Puntacana Group)
Community Development Work
The community development work extends beyond the Punta Cana region and includes dozens of towns and villages in the Altagracia province. With a significant annual investment, the Foundation has constructed more than 20 social impact projects including sports centers, community centers, playgrounds, nursing homes, schools, and rural health clinics. All projects are chosen by consensus and done in collaboration with community leaders and associations.
Puntacana International School offers quality bilingual education to both Puntacana Resort & Club employees' children and community members. The Ann & Ted Kheel Polytechnic School is a technical high school in Verón, providing an intensive English language program and vocational training to empower students for the job market. Supported by the Dominican Ministry of Education, the Caracolí Educational Center focuses on developing leadership skills, social responsibility, and respect for nature among low-income youth in the Punta Cana and Verón region.
Part of the health efforts for the benefit of the Punta Cana and neighboring communities include the Verón Rural Health Clinic; the Oscar de la Renta Pediatric Center; medical missions in the areas of dermatology, ophthalmology, audiology, and dental care; the Punta Cana Center for Child Diversity (CEDI) for children with down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and attention deficit disorder; and the Center for the Fight Against Blindness. These centers work in collaboration with local clinics and international organizations.
This is a residential project developed by the Grupo Puntacana Foundation for its employees and surrounding communities. The project offers affordable housing and opportunities for financing.
Taller Artesanal Nuestra Señora de Punta Cana
The Our Lady of Punta Cana Workshop offers job opportunities, skills, and technical training to women living in local communities near the Punta Cana tourism destination. The women receive guidance and training in the design and production of handmade products, often using recycled materials, in order to improve their standard of living and the well-being of their families.
Dominican Art Exhibit
Handicrafts of the Faceless Doll representative of the rich cultural heritage of the Dominicans at the Punta Cana International Airport.
Puntacana Group features the Puntacana Foundation, Punta Cana International Airport, Tortuga Bay Puntacana Resort & Club, The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village, Corales Golf Course, La Cana Golf Course, Puntacana Resort & Club Marina, Bluemall Puntacana, Puntacana Village, Galerías Puntacana, Six Senses Spa, besides restaurants, real estate properties, an equestrian center, among other businesses, plus the organization of the Punta Cana Carnival. All those businesses operate under the same responsible tourism practices.
In A Nutshell
Sustainable Tourism is here to stay. The Dominican Republic is the number one country in the Caribbean in tourist arrivals for a reason. Besides being blessed with astonishing nature, it is a leader in technology, connectivity, innovation and in sustainability in order to protect the natural resources that made it a leader in the first place.
This is just an example of sustainable practices that are taking place. Throughout the country things are changing for the better. Every day more establishments are in the process of eliminating single use plastics until it is eliminated entirely. Changes are being made to reduce the carbon print and environmental impact by the Dominican Government, private companies, and non-for-profit organizations.
You can be all you want in a place that has it all. You can be a conservationist with a clean mind in an awe-inspiring clean environment.