New Cruise Terminal in Santo Domingo

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 Domingo, the IFC designated financing for the cruise terminal in Kusadasi, Turkey, and for two of the three ports in Cozumel, Mexico. 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 Domingo 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 money."

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 MahoganyBay, 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.

Read more on: