In the Dominican Republic, a timid awareness of the environmental damage caused by mass tourism

In the Dominican Republic, a timid awareness of the environmental damage caused by mass tourism

from balcony club Overlooking the pool and immaculate beach, Jake Kheel reviews the fears of the moment: sargassum, those brown algae from Caribbean waters that hotel groups are trying to stop offshore; Water shortages in the Dominican Republic and will eventually limit the growth of tourism; land dumps and tons of daily waste that public authorities cannot collect; And this ocean ” World Health Organization [l]“Keeps you awake at night”because warming and polluted waters are bringing relentless new challenges.

Jake Kheel runs the Grupo Puntacana Foundation, named after the tourist empire founded by his grandfather. He has little to complain about, but there is something to worry about. Once an uninhabited forest in the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana has become a global symbol of mass tourism and the environmental damage caused by its chaotic development.

This elegant American, with a degree in Environmental Management, is described as one of the minds responsible for Dominican tourism. By correcting the excesses of the last century, he also wants to preserve the future of the family group. But its immediate environment sums up the inconsistencies of the task. Getting water, for example. “This is the main problem, due to the lack of processing infrastructure and investment by the government”And the Sorry for Jake Khel. Behind it, a golf course maintained by constant automatic watering, two friends work their gestures on impeccable green. The water consumption in the group’s hotels is 17,000 cubic meters per day, of which 10 thousand cubic meters are treated water.

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In the Dominican Republic, the availability of fresh water decreased by 35% between 1992 and 2014. While agriculture accounts for four-fifths of the remaining aphids, with particularly low yields, tourism has played its part in the decline of this resource: pollution generated by waste from tourism activity, deforestation, And now, salt water intrusion caused by fresh water pumping from hotels by sea.

“Penalties do not always follow”

Several regions are already suffering from water shortages, including the border with Haiti, the country’s driest and poorest region. It is precisely where the government is planning the most important tourist development since the birth of Punta Cana, in an ecosystem that, in the opinion of specialists, barely supports the arrival of tens of thousands of visitors.

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