Tourist flights have an impact on the Dominican economy

Talking about the impact of tourism on the Dominican economy is not new, however, it is exciting various related sectors. It is not true to say that one of the pillars of local Gross Domestic Product (GDP) negatively affects the environment. However, knowing how something new can be.

The Dominican Republic received 8,245,189 tourists in the first 10 months of the year and expects to reach a record 10 million visitors by the end of 2023. According to the statistics, that number of passengers came from more than a dozen destinations on 54,060 flights. Ministry of Tourism (Mitur).

More than half of these travelers arrived during the January to June period. According to data from the Central Bank (BC), the 4,521,350 arrivals represent an income of over US$5,022 million. But what does that mean for the environment?

Airplanes

Although the economic impact is visible and celebrated, poorly managed tourism can damage the environment and biodiversity, often destroying the very sites that generated the activity’s growth.

According to data from the Air Transport Action Group, the global aviation industry produces about 2.1% of human-caused CO2 emissions.

According to the Dominican Republic’s Tourism Intelligence Organization (Cittur), on average, the half-island received 250 flights daily this year, with Sundays being busiest days at airports receiving up to 300 flights.

Although the state statistics do not describe or disaggregate each tourist’s state or airport, they represent the local terminal. In 2023, the highest number of flights was recorded by Punta Cana Airport with 22,583 flights, followed by Las Americas International Airport (AILA) with 19,569 landings, according to the Situr portal.

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By airlines, JetBlue Airlines records 10,022, of which 8,460 are from the United States. Of the 5,059 flights that American Airlines reports to the Dominican Republic, 5,058 are from North America.

As such, both airlines have A321 aircraft. According to calculations by the MyClimate platform, a carbon assessment service, a flight of this type for travelers from Atlanta (USA) to Punta Cana, one way in economy class, generates 0.424 tons of CO2 over its 2,300 km route. With income, this indicator increases to 0.848 tons.

Canada followed with 4,611, and Colombia with 2,704. On a round-trip flight from the first destination, specifically Toronto to Punta Cana, in economy class, a passenger travels 6,000 km and produces up to 1.1 tonnes of CO2. For the South American country, from Bogotá to Santo Domingo, on a tour in tourist class, it travels 3,200 km, leaving 0,719 tonnes.

If that wasn’t clear enough, the “Travel and Climate” site makes it even easier. A flight from Santo Domingo to New York generates 651 kg (0.651 tons) of CO2 emissions. In Colombia, pollution is 415 kg. For Vancouver (Canada) it is 1,513 kg and for Barcelona it is 1,869 kg.

Through the platform’s interactive map you can see countries with an environmental impact of up to 1,000 kg (one ton) of CO2 emissions.

Flights from Europe can produce up to 2,000 kg. Calculating an average of 1,500 kg or 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide, cruise flights contain about 81,090 tons of CO2.

Tourist arrivals

In the 10 months to 2023, 3,534,980 passengers arrived from North America. Of the total, 833,861 are from Canada and 2,632,206 are from the United States.

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Colombia came in third by air, with 243,354.

Other data provided by the platform is occupation by country of origin. On average, flights in Canada and the US are up to 87% full.

Sweden is the only country where flights to the Dominican Republic are 100% full.

The platform reports that July was the month with the highest number of passengers at 858,863. This was followed by March 777,158 and April 749,519. In October this amount reached 590,873 passengers. The previous month, September, recorded a low of 539,140.

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