The Dunes of Baní: Attraction of the new vision of sustainable and cultural tourism

Punta Salinas is part of the Caribbean coastal plain and is the place where the spectacular Baní Dunes have formed. Its climate is dry steppe-like, with a predominance of dry or xerophytic vegetation, with long periods of drought, since it only rains in this area during the cyclonic season.

The winds that blow constantly in the bay are not only responsible for the formation of the dunes, but also for the creation of special conditions for water sports.

The perception is of Mr. Bolivar Troncoso Morales, master in ecotourism and former director of the Department of Ecotourism and Environment of MITUR, who also states that in the coastline of this region there are important beaches that constitute tourist attractions, becoming a tourist destination in the province of Peravia.

Sustainable tourism:

Las Dunas constitute an ecotourism destination because of the scientific elements that define it and because of its imposing landscaping coupled with the existence of endemic species that are unique in the country. “All these factors generate the necessary conditions for Las Dunas to become a first class ecotourism destination”.

How can Las Dunas be used within the framework of the new philosophy of sustainable tourism?

When visits can be made without deteriorating it and without generating effects that could alter the normal development of Las Dunas, as happens in countries where these natural resources are also a means for ecotourism. “When there is a strong breeze they suspend or limit the visit because when a human group is on the dunes with strong winds, the sand that arrives dragged by the breeze takes another direction, that is a very important element that must be taken into account for sustainability.

Troncoso explained that other elements that should be taken into account for its conservation are the trails. “You should not go up to Las Dunas on foot and much less in the so-called forwells because that deteriorates them”.

What is recommended?

To make elevated trails like the famous Japanese bridges that the person climbs to the height of the dune, observes it and does not deteriorate it. another model of observation is through observation towers. Another model is through observation towers: “Towers are built where from above you can see the entire dune, photograph it, and a guide offers the scientific and ecotourism explanations required so that its development process is not altered.
Education and awareness

In the expert’s opinion, the country lacks education and awareness of the population and fundamentally of the sustainable management of Las Dunas by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

“When a visitor climbs to the top of a dune and the sand slides down, this destroys the top, which took thousands of years to form, this is the problem that is not understood in our country in terms of sustainable management of natural resources”.

He reiterates that there is a lot of ignorance and lack of regulation on the part of the Ministry of the Environment. “There are supposed to be park rangers in that place and their function should be to show tourists or visitors through a screen where they are informed of the correct rules for the use of their resources”.

By way of illustration, the best example of ecotourism is Costa Rica where protected areas have a visitor center before entering the monument or park and through screens or dioramas, as it is called in ecotourism, the guide informs the rules of the place and if they do not comply with them will be sanctioned both the guide, the tourist or the tour operator company that takes those visitors.

“Almost all of our national parks have their regulations, but in most cases they are not complied with. I was part of the technicians that elaborated the law 64-2000 that establishes the rules for the protection of the environment. We worked on the environmental norms and those laws exist, but they are kept, it is not like that, it is to show them in dioramas at the entrance of the parks, “.

In short, creating awareness to preserve these resources is a shared responsibility of the Ministries of Education, Tourism and Environment. “At least the Ministry of Education is carrying it out through textbooks, working with various foundations and the National Geographic Institute on geography so that the information is technical and correct”.



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