Fundación Grupo Puntacana: Pioneering Sustainable Development in the Dominican Republic

Photo © Courtesy of Fundación Grupo Puntacana

When you live in a beautiful place, it stands to reason that you would want to conserve its beauty. At least, it does for Fundación Grupo Puntacana, a pioneering non-profit organization in the Dominican Republic.

Harnessing the power of sustainable development, the Fundación has a dual mission: to protect and preserve the natural resources of the Punta Cana region while fostering opportunities that enhance the well-being of its local communities.

With white sand beaches, turquoise waters, 45-hole golf courses located on 15,000 acres of land, and pristine hotels, including the AAA 5 Diamond Tortuga Bay Hotel and The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, Punta Cana is home to top-tier vacation experiences. Fundación Grupo Puntacana takes advantage of every opportunity to harmonize a balance between the vacation-ready developments it promotes and the community and environment that surrounds it.

The Heart of the Caribbean

Recognizing that Caribbean tourism’s main assets are its nature and its people, the Fundación works with strategic partners across the private, public, and civil society sectors to address social and environmental challenges, from education and health to coral reef restoration and endangered species conservation. Who better, after all, to lead the preservation efforts of the Caribbean than those who call this beautiful region home?

The foundation’s commitment to sustainable tourism has not gone unnoticed. Their award-winning innovations, from community entrepreneurship to cultural preservation and waste management to ecotourism, have earned them international recognition from brands like the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, and National Geographic Traveler. These acknowledgments shine a well-deserved spotlight on the region’s beauty and validate the foundation’s impressive achievements, innovative approaches, and unwavering dedication to creating a sustainable future for the Dominican Republic’s tourism industry.

Dominican republic
Programa Restauración de Corales © Guillermo Ricart

The foundation recently completed the renovation of its Marine Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art terrestrial coral nursery. With this renovation, the foundation has expanded its capacity to produce half a dozen species of coral on a large scale, alongside producing ornamental fish and forging partnerships to conserve critically endangered reef fish.

Earlier this year, international aquarists participated in remodeling and implementing life support equipment for a land-based coral nursery and marine laboratory. These facilities will have the appropriate technology to guarantee coral requirements, facilitate processes, and provide optimal conditions for the massive and ex-situ cultivation of reef-building coral species.

The Marine Innovation Center has had two citizen science events as part of the coral restoration program, training 21 volunteers to help transplant fragments in domes. Already, around 300 corals of the Acropora cervicornis species have been successfully transplanted.

These initiatives have bolstered local fishermen to take Recreational Boat Operator courses, learning valuable information about navigation, first aid, water rescue techniques, and the importance of marine ecosystems.

The Power of Celebration

For over 30 years, the Fundación has spearheaded experimental projects that showcase innovative ways of addressing key social and environmental challenges in tourism. By partnering with private companies, non-profit foundations, universities, and state institutions, the foundation has cultivated a vision of Caribbean development that harmonizes economic growth, community inclusion, and cultural celebration.

The foundation realizes that celebration is a powerful tool—incredible things can happen when the community comes together, and what better way to do so than to celebrate? Celebrating Dominican culture is a major attraction for the Punta Cana tourist destination, benefiting both local and global communities.

Since 2008, the Foundation has supported Carnaval Punta Cana, a colorful festival enjoyed by the local community and visiting tourists. Similarly, the Punta Cana Poetry Festival, sponsored by Fundación Grupo Puntacana and Café de Artistas, is one of the most notable cultural events in the Punta Cana area. Both prominent guest poets and local students come together to share their literary compositions with excited audiences and engage in educational workshops.

The festivities only ramp up for the holiday season, with both the Christmas Carol Gala and the Christmas Bazaar beckoning thousands of guests to enjoy local food, regional treasures, and good old family fun.

Photo © Courtesy of Fundación Grupo Puntacana

Community Care

The Fundación’s work sets the tone for sustainable development in a way that other regions can emulate in their own tourism. Their key focuses are addressing environmental preservation and empowering their community—preserving the magic of Punta Cana through its most important aspects, people and planet.

With this in mind, the Foundation has constructed more than 20 social impact projects, including sports centers, community centers, playgrounds, nursing homes, schools and rural health clinics. The Verón Rural Health Clinic, opened in 2006, has become a benchmark in the Punta Cana region, providing care to an average of 150 patients per day.

Similarly, the Oscar de la Renta Pediatric Center provides primary health care to more than 15,000 disadvantaged children from the local communities of Veron and Punta Cana, bringing essential care to communities most in need. The Center is named after Grupo Puntacana partner and renowned fashion designer Oscar de la Renta.

A Vision for the Future

But their work doesn’t end there—the foundation understands that the future of Punta Cana relies on the youth of today. That’s why they place an immense emphasis on sustainability in education. Grassroots to their core, the foundation operates three educational initiatives within the region.

Puntacana International School (PCIS)

Managed by the foundation, PCIS is a private bilingual school offering exceptional education to children and young adults in the Punta Cana region. It aims to nurture future leaders equipped with the knowledge and skills to contribute to their communities and beyond. PCIS is unique in the Dominican Republic as it offers subsidies for children who do not have the resources to pay tuition.

The Ann & Ted Kheel Polytechnic School

Established in 2004 in Verón, this technical high school serves children from low-income households. It offers secondary education and technical training in computer science, hospitality, electricity, and plumbing, alongside English language education. Over 300 students benefit from its programs, positioning them for success in various technical professions.

Caracolí Educational Center

This center, supported by the Dominican Ministry of Education, caters to low-income youth in Punta Cana and Verón. It focuses on intellectual development through educational competencies and experiences, laying a solid foundation for lifelong learning and personal growth. Caracolí is also unique—a residential project developed by the Grupo Puntacana Foundation for its employees and surrounding communities; the project offers affordable housing conveniently located near community services.

The foundation ensures that the natural beauty and cultural richness of Punta Cana continue to thrive. Its holistic approach and strategic collaborations promise a brighter, more sustainable future for the region and its people, proving that sustainable tourism is not just a possibility but a reality in the Dominican Republic.

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