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New Cruise Terminal in Santo Domingo

June 4, 2007 By: David Eisen Travel Agent

World Bank earmarks $21 million for project

Tourism in the Dominican Republic may soon get a bump, thanks in part to the munificent pockets of the World Bank. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is providing a long-term financing package to Sans Soucí Ports, S.A. to expand, renovate and operate the Sans Soucí and Don Diego cruise ship terminals in Santo Domingo on the Ozama River. The $21 million sum being allocated by the IFC is intended to reintroduce cruising to the city, thereby spurring local tourism and the local economy.  The Don Diego cruise terminal was completed in February

This isn't the first time the IFC has appropriated funds for
the express intent of building up cruise facilities. Prior to Santo
, the IFC designated financing for the cruise terminal in Kusadasi, Turkey,
and for two of the three ports in Cozumel,
. It's a
practice that the organization wants to continue. "We want to do
more," says Herbert Lai, senior investment officer in infrastructure for
the IFC and principal in the Santo
project. "We like the business; it brings
people to destinations, spurs local economies and helps out the people who work
there, such as local merchants."

The IFC, although an arm of the World Bank, is different in
that it provides financing for private sector projects in emerging economies.
It also ensures that high environmental standards are maintained. In the case
of Santo Domingo,
the money will also be used to help clean the port.

Lisandro Macarrulla, president of the board of directors of
Sans Soucí Ports, says the IFC's financing will further enhance Santo Domingo's position
as a "world-class tourism port." Royal Caribbean International has
already taken notice. The cruise line will commit Legend of the Seas to
the region beginning in December, when it will homeport in the Sans Soucí
terminal and operate seven-night southern Caribbean
cruises. "One of the primary reasons we chose to homeport a ship in the Dominican Republic was due to the port project
in Santo Domingo," says Maria Sastre, Royal
Caribbean International's vice president of sales and marketing for Latin
America and the Caribbean. "This afforded
us the capability of having the Vision class adequately supported for
the seven-night Caribbean cruise program."

A rendering of San Soucí Ports’ cruise terminal project

That the ship is set to homeport in Santo Domingo is a coup for local businesses.
"People might fly in a day or two ahead of their cruise and, maybe, stay a
day after," says IFC's Lai, "which means they will spend more

Cruise Lines Working With IFC

Financing cruise terminal projects has been vital to the
growth and sustainability of the cruise industry. In tandem with organizations
like the IFC, the cruise lines have also used their money to finance projects.
In March, Carnival Corp. signed an agreement to build and operate a cruise
terminal on the island of Roatan in Honduras. Construction of the $50
million facility, to be called Mahogany Bay, will begin this fall
and should be completed by 2009. Within five years, the terminal is expected to
receive 225 cruise ship calls and 500,000 passengers annually.

While the Don Diego terminal has already gone through
remodeling via an initial capital investment by Sans Soucí Ports, the Sans
Soucí terminal was razed and is currently under construction. It is scheduled
for completion in November just prior to the arrival of Royal Caribbean's Legend
of the Seas

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