The lack of resources and encouragement of rural youth, together with the scarce promotion of the attractions of their communities and the scarcity of housing offer, are part of the challenges to be overcome by the territories to develop sustainable rural tourism in the Dominican Republic, assured a group of young people participating in the 1000 Digital Villages initiative promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Young people from the communities of Bayaguana, Las Galeras, Pedernales and San José de las Matas, They presented their points of view during an exchange of experiences with producer associations and cooperatives that promote sustainable and integrative tourism, through agroecology, held at Rancho Don Lulú. “We must educate and involve young people from the family and the community so that they understand the importance of participating in entrepreneurship projects in rural territories,” said Crinilda de Jesús, a young artisan from Bayaguana, Monte Plata province. While Ana Gabriela Torres, from the Association of Coffee Growers United for Progress of San José de las Matas, revealed that the low value that the community gives to artisan products, as well as the lack of qualified young labor, are part of the pitfalls that entrepreneurs must go through in order to move forward with their community projects. In this way, Nicole Corona, from Jarahucos Tours, in Pedernales, also expressed herself, who assured that there is little promotion and education of the population about the natural and cultural resources of this province. “When talking about Pedernales, only Bahía de las Águilas is mentioned and the magnitude of all the natural resources that this province has, which has the Jaragua National Park, designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, is unknown.”
“Agrotourism complemented with digital platforms can benefit small farmers and rural communities in the Dominican Republic, as it gives them the opportunity to diversify their economic activities and create a new demand for their agricultural products,” said Rodrigo Castañeda, representative of FAO in the country. The Digital Villages initiative that is developed in the country supports rural youth in promoting rural tourism and the digitization of trade to create more prosperous, sustainable and resilient economies to climate change. Through this initiative that is developed at a global level, FAO aims to achieve its development objectives so that rural territories can obtain better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.
During the exchange, Lubeisy Cuevas from the province of Pedernales participated, on rural tourism experiences, and Nicole and Richard Corona, from Jarahucos Tours, an agency specialized in agro-ecotourism experiences.
From the Bayaguana community were Crinilda de Jesús, artisan; Miscauris Vargas rural tourism experiences and Víctor Hernández, from the municipal mayor’s office. For the municipality of Las Galeras, Samaná province, Darbin Martínez, member of the Cooperativa Agroturística y Servicios Múltiples de Las Galeras participated. Oscar Cruz, technician from Macadamia La Loma and Ana Gabriela Torres, from the Association of Coffee Growers United for Progress (ASOCAUPRO) were present from the Municipality of San José de las Matas, Santiago province. Also participating were Yesenia Saud, CESAL ecotourism technician for the Enriquillo region; Ramón Manuel Pantaleón, MIPYMES Coordinator of the North Regional Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MICM), and Luis Amarante, owner of Rancho Don Lulú. At the close of the activity, a guided tour was made through the trails of the Loma Quita Espuela Scientific Reserve, a protected area due to its importance in the conservation of biodiversity and in the production of water in the country.