For those who couldn't attend the recently concluded Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) in Punta Cana, Travel Agent was able to pull together some highlights with hopes of helping agents sell the Dominican Republic.
DR Sees Five Percent Spike
The Vice Minister of Tourism, Radames Martinez-Aponte, announced that the Dominican Republic had an “exceptional” five percent increase in tourist arrivals in 2012.
“Last year we had a growth rate of around 4.95 percent," he says. "This level of growth was the most significant we have seen around the Caribbean, as our competition was lower, with Jamaica at 1.8 percent and the Riviera Maya at 3.4 percent."
2013 Budget is Largest Ever for DR Tourism
The ministry of tourism’s $13 million budget for 2013 is its largest ever, says Martinez-Aponte, and includes $1.7 million for “infrastructure and promotion."
“We have a goal of 10 million tourists during the next 10 years,” says Martinez-Aponte, noting that the ministry will spend $2.5 million to develop the Puerto Plata tourist district.
The ministry will also continue recent work to revitalize the historic Santo Domingo colonial zone, including the restoration of historic facades and the installation of video security cameras in public areas.
New Highway Improves Travel From Santo Domingo to La Romana, Punta Cana
Santo Domingo is now easily connected to La Romana and Punta Cana with the new “El Coral” highway (which has cut travel time in half), and will soon be connected to the increasingly popular Samana peninsula via a new highway that will cut travel time to one hour and 45 minutes.
The ministry reported the country’s seven international airports hosted 3.9 million visitors in 2012, a 5.9 percent increase over 2011. Fifty-five percent of the visitors were from North America; a 10.3 percent increase compared with 2011.
The Dominican Republic also recorded an all-time high in visitor growth between January and March of 2012, with 1.7 million tourists, a nine percent increase compared with the same period in 2011. Tourist arrivals from the U.S. grew by 14 percent over the same period.
The Sheraton is coming back to Santo Domingo with the opening of a 225-room Starwood hotel in December. Undergoing a $6 million renovation, Sheraton Santo Domingo first opened as a Sheraton 30 years ago, was later known as the Melia Santo Domingo and is currently open as Magna 365 ahead of its debut as the Sheraton.
A Four Points by Sheraton in Punta Cana Village is scheduled to open in October.
Set to open on December 20, Westin Puntacana is conveniently located five minutes from the international airport. The 400-room Starwood hotel will target the business and convention market . It will offer ocean views from all rooms, a cigar bar, Six Senses Spa, 24-hour business centre and the Westin Workout gym.
Sscheduled to open early next year on Playa Grande on the north coast, Aman Resort and 18-hole golf course is currently under construction to the tune of a $400 million investment. When complete, the complex will include suites with private pools and villas built on the edge of the cliffs.