Touring the attractions of the southern region of the Dominican Republic allows tourists to combine fun with the preservation of the identity of the localities visited. Because of these factors, local entrepreneurs are betting on the development of community tourism, a trend that gained strength after the pandemic.
A wooden restaurant with a cane roof welcomes visitors. The Primitivo restaurant offers diners a space decorated with typical Dominican pieces that seem to be immortalized in antiquity, while a merengue resounds on the loudspeakers inviting newcomers to dance.
The owner of this establishment, Yaina Rosario, expresses that the objective is to fuse typical foods with avant-garde recipes. “We want to rescue flavors and teach about Dominican gastronomic culture by cooking with traditional ingredients such as coconut, plantain and rice,” she says.
In addition to generating 18 jobs and receiving 150 people per week, for RD$300 travelers will be able to taste dishes from San Juan de la Maguana, Baní, Azua and Barahona, which is a differentiating element of the business.
Tourists will travel along the Sanchez highway and will be able to view the arid landscape of the Sierra Martin Garcia until they reach their second stop. Country life lovers will find in Azua the Caprache ranch, a farm that emerged in 2016 with the aim of rescuing the dairy genetics of Dominican goats.
Owner Nieves Segura caresses with her right hand a specimen resting in the corral. The original plan was to conserve the goat model, but with the coronavirus, the owners have transformed the farm to adapt it to community tourism.
Segura explains that visitors live the experience for a cost of RD$100 and get to know the 284 goats, animals that are used for milking and processing dairy products such as cheese and dulce de leche.
To promote the breeding of goats of high genetic quality, the entrepreneur imports male goats from the United States at a cost of US$1,800. Meanwhile, to increase milk production and prepare the ranch to receive more tourists, she took RD$20 million in bank loans.
He maintains that he will measure profits after seven years of operation, in order to ensure the long-term sustainable growth of the project. In addition to visiting the farm, tourists will be able to visit other attractions in the area and boost the local economy.
Among coral reefs, mangroves and beaches, Azua offers multiple adventures to be in contact with the environment under the care of the environment. This is the concept of the Altos de La Caobita hotel, which started as a retreat house for Catholic parishioners, but was transformed into a sustainable hotel in 2020.
So says its owner, Dolores Puertolas, who indicates that the change of model became an ecotourism proposal for visitors to the region. “We saw that tourists are increasingly interested and the project began to be profitable. This action allowed us to diversify the fun offer and create packages such as the route to the mangroves for a cost of RD$3,000”, she said.
For the businesswoman, respecting the environment is the combination of resting in the middle of nature without altering the place. “We are concerned about offering tourists an ecological space, putting recyclers within their reach so that they can dispose of garbage and reduce single-use plastic,” she said.
He affirms that ecotourism is the combination of rest and nature without altering the place. The establishment has the capacity to receive 20 people for an average price of RD$4,000, while the more adventurous will find the option of camping with views of the Sierra Martin Garcia and La Caobita beach.
He emphasizes that the project seeks the improvement of the Aztec community and the sustainable growth of the tourism sector by implementing that its collaborators are trained in educational organizations and then offer the services in their community of origin.
Sees opportunity for entrepreneurship
The report “Opportunities for Dominican MSMEs in the tourism sector”, prepared by the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants (Asonahores), indicates that the districts of Baní and Azua register 3,049 and 3,233 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that provide services to the Dominican tourism industry, being an option for small businessmen to diversify their income.
As the sun sets on the horizon and the tourist has to return to Santo Domingo, a stop at an ice cream parlor is ideal to conclude the trip in the best way.
The owner of CapriRico, Paola Diaz, started with homemade ice cream because she did not have RD$3,000 to pay for her daughter’s school trip.
“I started with about 30 ice creams that I sold at school and in different places in town so that people would know about it and be able to raise the necessary money,” he says. He says that he prepares 350 ice creams on average every day, with the sweet potato, coconut and dulce de leche flavors being the most requested by tourists.
For RD$70, these ice creams leave tourists with a sweet taste on their palate and they return home with the joy of having seen some of the attractions of the southern region.
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