Agro-tourism allows diversification with much more than sun and beach.
Tourists sunbathe on paradisiacal white-sand beaches, enjoy fish and coconut and beat the heat with fruity drinks. This is often the Dominican Republic’s appeal to the international market, but other visitors are looking for an authentic experience.
Living on an island in the Caribbean, located in the path of the sun, allows the travel and tourism industry to connect with the environment and integrate the community into the value chain. This is possible thanks to the production of ginger. This is one of the objectives of the Cooperativa Agroturística y Servicios Múltiples Guariquen (Coopaturg) in the community of Rincón, in Samaná.
According to Coopaturg’s partner, María Corporán, the ginger route is part of the Samaná Sustainable Circuit, which aims to raise awareness of the production and harvesting process of organic ginger. And no wonder; the agrotourism market will be worth US$4.33 billion by 2025, estimates research firm Technavio.
“This route will offer something different from traditional tourism; it is the hidden face of agricultural production,” she says in conversation with elDinero.
According to the executive, 70 companies will benefit from the economic spillover of the excursions. She also asserts that integrating the community will allow the development of new boutique hotels and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that will contribute to the socioeconomic development of the locality.
Agritourism is a sustainable alternative because travelers get to know the natural environment, live with the local population, and discover their traditions while learning about their agricultural and livestock production.
Corporán comments that the sustainable development of Rincón, as well as of other nearby communities, requires the sum of wills.
“We have not yet approached the (Ministry of) Tourism… But the last support we had was from a temporary program that supported us with a seed capital of RD$60,000 to adapt the premises and receive visitors”, said the executive.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), those who opt for agro-tourism excursions tend to have a greater economic benefit, due to the purchase of local products and the overnight stay in family homes.
The reality is that, nowadays, people prefer places to relax and vacation within their own territory; one of the variables to choose the destination is that they can arrive by land and with the ease of being able to choose between a short rental hotel or an accommodation that fits their budget.
According to data from the National Association of Bars and Restaurants (Asonahores), Samaná has 3,408 rooms. This is equivalent to 4% of the country’s total supply, which amounts to 84,071.
Samaná is one of the country’s tourist centers. This is shown by the statistics of the Ministry of Tourism (Mitur), highlighting that in January of this year, 6,949 passengers arrived by air through El Catey International Airport.
The arrival of these travelers went from 69,601 in 2017 to 86,009 in 2018, for a difference of 16,408. Meanwhile, the following years present a fluctuating growth, in 2019 82,760 people arrived; in 2020, 26,098; 2021 reported 13,205 and 2022 received 32,113. However, if the period 2017 and 2022 are analyzed, a decrease of 53.9% is evidenced, due to the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic.
Likewise, the attraction of cruise passengers allows Samanenses to offer daily excursions to Cayo Levantado, a tour of the fishing village, discover the Whale Museum or hike the El Limón waterfall, for an average of US$100.
In January 2023 alone, 8,997 passengers arrived by sea. Between 2017 and 2022, 238,149 people arrived, with 2017 representing 26.3% of the arrivals for this concept, followed by 2019 with 53,905 and 2018, 44,330.
Faced with these potential excursionists interested in learning about ginger cultivation, Corporán states that they lack a specific goal on the impact of tourism. He explains that, for example, Rincon beach became a focus of interest for Dominican and foreign visitors in 2020, a situation of concern for community members.
“We have had weekends with more than 100 busloads of people, who impact leaving their mark on the natural environment. It is not quantity, we are really looking for quality”, he assures, while indicating that tourism must contribute, preserve and regenerate the area with quality trips.
Some of Samaná’s tourism offerings
Disconnecting from technology is essential to enjoy the charms of nature during a few days of vacation. With an area of 412.1 square kilometers, the circuit will have diverse attractions that will serve as an inclusive option for foreign and local tourists, as well as the socioeconomic impact of the businesses involved.Laguna del Diablo: It is a fresh water spring located between the mountains of Rincón, in the community of Las Galeras. It is an attraction surrounded by stories and legends of the time.
Loma Atravesada: From the top of the mountain, the visitor will have a panoramic view of the Samaná peninsula, the town of Las Galeras and the coconut and ginger crops.
Whale watching: Every year about 2,000 whales arrive to mate in the warm waters of the Atlantic, an action that becomes a tourist attraction during January-March.
Ginger Route: This is a tour through the ginger farms. Tourists learn about the process of planting, cultivation and harvesting, and tasting ginger products.
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