Date of Award


Degree Type

Creative Project

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Committee Chair(s)

Caroline Lavoie


Caroline Lavoie


Carlos V. Lincón


Marion T. Bentley


The Dominican Republic has locations rich in cultural, historical, and ecological assets. One of these places is the province of Puerto Plata. Located in the northern region of the country, Puerto Plata was one of the first territories of America in which Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. Built in the year of 1494 because of the second Spanish expedition arrival, La Isabela, the first new world’s Spanish village represents one of the many vital historical components of the province of Puerto Plata. The country has an economy largely based in the service sector. According to the U.S. Department of State, in the Dominican Republic, services contributed to a 64.7% of the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (2011 est.). More than 60% of the labor force relates to the service sector (2005 est.) making this the most important income source of the Dominican Republic’s economy. The service industry is fitted by the sectors of commerce, communications, tourism, and transportation. Among these service sectors the tourism industry has been the main income receiver, with US $2 billion dollars, a direct employment of 50,000, and an indirect employment of 110,000 people (United Nations Statistics Division, 2000). The province of Puerto Plata holds more than 100,000 hotel beds, which represents an enormous potential for the tourism sector and the overall economic development of the region. Puerto Plata is a vital provider of the tourism-based economy of the country. However, this economic model still needs to develop a better integration of the recreational and historical resources of the province thus there is still much untapped potential to be developed in Puerto Plata’s tourism industry. At the same time, the existing condition of the province is so unkempt, that secluded and isolated projects won’t be able to make the sizeable change that is needed to revitalize the province, which is why a regional planning initiative is necessary to help change, both the social and economical aspects of the province. Previous planning initiatives have been carried out in the province however on a relatively small scale. One of these earlier planning initiatives, carried out by the Consejo Nacional de Asuntos Urbanos/ CONAU (National Council of Urban Affairs), recommended a series of policies for the proper urban development of the capital of the province, the town of San Felipe de Puerto Plata. This thesis found that in order to fulfill the economic demands of the region, and to better integrate the existing resources of the province, a large-scale planning approach needs to be developed in both San Felipe de Puerto Plata and Sosúa because the majority of the natural and historical resources of Puerto Plata are found within these towns, and also because these municipalities are considered key contributors to the overall economy of the province.The current tourism development of the province has been threatened by a lack of proper management of the existing resources. Therefore there is the need of protecting the existing cultural heritage of the province while meeting the present and future tourism demands. Regional Planning is a field that helps develop a proficient placement of the infrastructures and land-use areas of a territory in order to develop a sustainable growth of a given region. For this reason, this thesis examines the potential for a regional planning initiative to help the tourism development of Puerto Plata. As a result, and based in best management practices of tourism planning initiatives from similar cultural and spatial backgrounds, a regional tourism planning framework together with a set of recommendations are proposed for the future development of the towns of San Felipe de Puerto Plata and Sosúa.