Highlights From the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange


Cathedral of Santa María la Menor
Dating to 1512, Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo is the oldest cathedral in the Americas.


The potential rebirth of Santo Domingo and an assortment of new hotel openings in Punta Cana and beyond are among the highlights Travel Agent gleaned at the recent Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) in Punta Cana. Going forward, these developments should help agents sell the Dominican Republic better and with even greater confidence.

The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism is continuing 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.

Santo Domingo, in general, is looking to get back on the radar of clients heading to the Dominican Republic, particularly clients looking for a day trip from Punta Cana. The Dominican capital 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 Coral Highway was constructed to reduce travel time between Punta Cana and Santo Domingo in hopes that more tourists would take a day trip to experience Santo Domingo’s tourism offerings. The highway was completed last fall and cuts the drive time from the capital city to Punta Cana from four hours to roughly two hours.

This is particularly good news since Santo Domingo, located on the South Central Coast of Dominican Republic, is rich in culture and juxtaposed against modern attractions and nearby beaches. 

The city’s setting along the Caribbean Sea and exceptional weather make the area and its nearby beach towns of Juan Dolio and Boca Chica prime tourist destinations and popular choices for business conferences.

Puntacana Resort & Club.
La Cana is one of two golf courses at Puntacana Resort & Club.


Within Santo Domingo is America’s first and oldest town, the Colonial City, which was established by Christopher Columbus and his brother Bartholomew in 1498. This area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most beautiful and romantic areas in all of the Caribbean, dotted with an array of restaurants, museums and ancient stone structures dating back to the early 1500s. 

Santo Domingo is both an exotic tourist destination and an important business and finance center. Highlights include residences such as the Alcazar de Colon, the Cathedral of Santa María la Menor (also know as Catedral Primada de America) and Fortaleza Ozama.

For now, we recommend day-tripping to Santo Domingo from Punta Cana, but it’s only a matter of time before Santo Domingo can stand on its own as a Caribbean vacation. It’s just a matter of hotel rooms and that seems to be improving as well.

In fact, 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 30 years ago, was later known as the Melia Santo Domingo and currently operates as Magna 365 ahead of its debut as the Sheraton.

Punta Cana Hotel News

While Santo Domingo continues to be a reclamation project, the Ministry is also making sure Punta Cana, the Dominican’s bread-winner, remains hot.

Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village is scheduled to open in October. The hotel will have 124 guest rooms, an outdoor pool and access to five miles of private beach. Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village also provides state-of-the-art meeting facilities, a 24-hour business center, a fully equipped fitness facility and full-service dining. 

Guests can stroll to the shops, restaurants and salons of Galerias Punta Cana within the Village, and hop on the hotel’s complimentary shuttle to visit Six Senses Spa, the Puntacana Ecological Reserve and a choice of world-class golf courses located at Puntacana Resort & Club, which will celebrate its first anniversary this October.


Westin Puntacana
Westin Puntacana is set to open before year’s end.


Set to open on December 20, The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club 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 center and the Westin Workout gym.

For both the Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village and Westin Puntacana, agents should contact Lorena Luca Rabanales ([email protected], 809-959-2262), revenue and reservations manager at Puntacana Resort & Club.

Meanwhile, scheduled to open early next year on Playa Grande on the north coast, Aman Villas is currently under construction to the tune of a $400 million investment, which includes resoration of the 18-hole Robert Trent Jones, Sr. golf course. When complete, the complex will include suites with private pools and villas built on the edge of the cliffs. Aman Resorts, in fact, is in discussions for several new destinations including Nevis, sister island to St. Kitts, and possibly Peru in South America.

Suggested Articles:

From Thailand to Nepal, tourists across Asia are finding their vacations turning to nightmares as airlines cancel flights and countries close borders.

Hollland America says 14 percent of Zaandam's crew and 4 percent of its guests have flu-like symptoms. It's now moving healthy guests to Rotterdam.

The CARES Act, passed by the Senate, would pour $2 trillion into the U.S. Economy. Read more.