The president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader Corona, announced on Tuesday a set of initiatives to address the tourism industry’s challenges during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and to ensure that the country is a safe travel destination.
"Our goal is to minimize the effects of the pandemic and facilitate a responsible recovery that prioritizes health, maximizes the potential for job creation and economic growth, and promotes the further sustainable development of the sector," said President Abinader, according to the Ministry of Tourism for the Dominican Republic.
David Collado, minister of tourism, mentioned during Tuesday’s news conference that the new administration and the Association of Hotels and Tourism of Dominican Republic have been meeting to better understand the tourists’ concerns of the industry’s needs. "We are focused on driving continuous growth for the sector, along with our country’s image,” he said. “We are confident that together we will overcome the challenges of the pandemic and ensure that the Dominican Republic remains the number one destination in the region for international travelers, who visit either for vacation, business, investment opportunities or returning to their preferred second home."
The government’s plan provides a set of measures to ensure the health and safety of locals and visitors. These measures will include new internationally certified health protocols and will apply to the entire industry, including restaurants and bars.
The measures include:
Starting at the end of September, rapid tests will be performed on randomly selected travelers upon arrival, such as the diagnostic breath test for COVID-19. Once this measure is in place, the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival will be eliminated. However, the current requirements continue to be valid until then.
In addition, social distancing and the use of masks will be mandatory for the duration of a visitor’s stay. All tourists visiting a hotel will be granted, on a temporary basis, a travel assistance plan that will include coverage for emergencies, telemedicine, lodging for prolonged stays and costs for changing flights in the event of an infection. This insurance will be provided at no cost to the visitor until December 2020 and will be 100 percent paid for by the Dominican State. A "sanitary bubble" will also be implemented to ensure that hotel employees stay as long as possible within the facilities.
Properties will implement effective health management with suppliers, contractors and employees. The latter will be regularly tested and will follow a specific protocol to come in and out of the facilities. Labor regulations will be adapted to minimize and mitigate risks for employees.
The government said that these protocols are in the process of being certified by the World Travel & Tourism Council and Buró Veritas.
A new tourism cabinet, led by the president of the DR, and under the executive direction of the minister of tourism will manage the plan. Institutions that directly affect the industry’s value chain will make up the cabinet, which will constantly monitor the impact and effectiveness of each initiative implemented and adjust as necessary. A communication effort will follow, using all channels and points of contact with tourists and allies to let the world know that the Dominican Republic is a safe travel destination. The communication plan includes training, detailed material, constant updating and search engine optimization.