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Daily News - 16 September 1999

Definite solution for Las Americas lights problem
President Leonel Fernández instructed the governor of the Las Americas International Airport, Arístides Fernández Zucco to find a definite solution to the runway lights system problem that on Saturday and Monday affected evening flights at Las Americas. The problem was said to be brought about by a lightning discharge that caused a series of short circuits. The airport had to redirect incoming evening flights to Puerto Plata and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The government is considering the installation of electrical cabling that uses new technology to avoid a repetition of the power failure.
It is unclear whether President Fernández has ordered that the Dominican government make the needed investment now. A consortium of Canadian, US, Italian and Dominican companies recently won the bid to operate the Las Americas International Airport, and would be responsible for the investment as part of an overhaul the airport will be subject to. Nevertheless, the privatization contract needs to be approved by Congress, which has not yet done so.

AmCham supports privatization
The American Chamber of Commerce issued a statement that the privatization of the power supply and distribution in the DR is a non-reversible process. AmCham also favors that the government make public the contracts it has signed with these companies. Andrés Aybar, president of the business organization, said that Dominican industry, commerce and consumers in general will benefit from having access to stable and reliable power supply which is expected to be the result of privatization in the medium term.

Y2K not a problem for DR banks
The Dominican Republic banking system is ready for year 2000. El Siglo newspaper reports that the first alert that the banking system was vulnerable occurred in 1995 when credit cards with expiration dates in 2000 were rejected by the automated systems. Banks began then to investigate what needed to be done. In January 1998, the Monetary Junta set forth the plans to prepare the system for the year 2000. All financial entities participated in the coordinated effort, denominated Project Year 2000. The program's objectives were met on 31 March 1999. In May 1999, the Central Bank certified Dominican banks that had installed new systems. Due to the interdependency among Dominican banks, all banks have had to work in a coordinated manner.
The first step of the strategic plan was to incorporate technological solutions within the financial corporations. The second phase was to verify that clients and strategic partners of the financial sector, such as telephone companies, ATH networks, credit card companies and the 300 largest clients, had also updated their systems, eliminating the Y2K problem.
Renato González Disla, informatics director of the Central Bank, and who heads the Project 2000 Follow Up Committee, said the program cost about RD$780 million pesos. Private banking was responsible for 90%, with the Central Bank, and Banks Superintendency also making millionaire investments. Of the total, RD$350 million was spent in new equipment, RD$225 million in new software and RD$210 million was spent to hire consultants and personnel.
He says that clients that use credit cards with expiration dates beyond year 2000 can verify that the system works.

New committee to report on power supply
President Leonel Fernández ordered Alejandrina Germán, Secretary of the Presidency, to preside over a committee that will coordinate the national energy system and keep the public opinion up to date on what's going on with privatization. The committee was formed yesterday during the three hour meeting attended by government officials and representatives of the companies that won bid to manage the distribution and generation facilities of the Dominican Electricity Corporation (CDE. This follow up unit, Unidad de Seguimiento, is made up by Temístocles Montás; the administrator of the CDE, Radhamés Segura; the Superintendent of Electricity, Marcos Cochón; a representative of the Commission for the Reform of Public Enterprise (CREP) and the deputy administrator of CDE, who is in charge of the Unidad de Despacho, the electricity dispatch unit. The CDE is still a middle point between private companies that generate electricity and the new private distributors.
Consumers have been irritated by the lack of information coming forth from the new companies. As of late, the nation has again been suffering long blackouts as well as new hikes in electricity bills. The government attributed the blackouts to deficiencies in generation and to repairs being carried on on distribution lines by the new companies.

Hotel Association asks PLD candidate to cooperate
The National Hotel & Restaurant Association (Asonahores) urged the presidential candidate of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, Danilo Medina to intervene so that the agreements that regulate political propaganda that were recently signed between the Municipality of Santo Domingo and all political parties be respected. Campaign managers of Medina are violating the agreement by placing his posters on areas that are now off limits to political propaganda. The agreement seeks to avoid the visual contamination that occurred during the presidential and municipal and congressional campaigns of 1996 and 1998. Arturo Villanueva, executive vice president of Asonahores, sent Medina a letter where he requests the PLD presidential candidate's collaboration "to help preserve the touristic image of the city of Santo Domingo and the rest of the country, that is visited daily by hundreds of tourists of multiple nationalities."

Minister of Tourism wants to privatize La Mansión
Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez urged the Commission for the Reform of Public Enterprise to advance on the privatization of state hotels. He urged that the government initiate the process to privatize these, mentioning the case of the San José de las Matas mountain hotel, la Mansión, that he feels would be attractive to investors. The hotel has been closed for years now. He criticized the CREP has left privatization of state hotels for last.

TWA wants to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico
Trans World Airlines (TWA) is requesting permission to fly from New York to Puerto Plata once a day and from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Santo Domingo three times a day. The routes are now covered by American Airlines or American Eagle. TWA has the authorization for daily flights from New York to Santo Domingo.

All included prevails in DR
The all-included stay modality is the most used system in Dominican hotels. According to "Select Statistics on the Tourism Sector 1999," a statistical report prepared by the Hotel & Restaurant Association, 31.45% of all rooms in the country are offered in all-included plans. The all-included modality is especially prevalent on the North Coast where 55.26% of hotels in Puerto Plata, Sosua, Cabarete, Samana sell the all included plan. In the Southeast and East coasts 39.13% offer the all-included plan.
The statistical report reports on the percentages of hotels offering different plans:
American Plan (room plus breakfast) 20.97%
European Plan (just the room) 18.55%
Modified American Plan (room plus breakfast and dinner) 16.13%
Full American Plan (room with three meals)

Forecast shows Hurricane Gert not a threat to the Caribbean
Hurricane Gert maintains its move to the northwest which would bring it to pass well north of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic included. Hurricane Gert is the seventh hurricane to enter the Atlantic Basin. The DR has been sparred from hurricanes so far this season. Peak season for hurricanes in the Caribbean is August and September. Optimistically speaking, the worst is over for the Caribbean, as it takes about two weeks for a hurricane to develop from the African coast and there no new tropical depressions are in formation to date. See the tracking charts and explanations available at:

Calendar of upcoming activities
Handicraft fair coming up this week
Feriarte 99 will be held 16-19 September at the Hotel Embajardor. Feriarte, in its ninth year, is the leading handicraft fair held in the DR. It is organized by the Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce. The fair is an exhibition of Dominican crafts where those attending can purchase items at attractive prices.
National Theater Drama Season continues this weekend
The National Theater's drama season resumes this weekend, 15-19 September with the presentation of the play, "Bachata para María Viveza." This play will last through 26 September.
Radhamés Polanco wrote and directs this play that was chosen "best drama" by Casa de Teatro in 1997.
The action takes place primarily in a brothel. Actors play the role of eight Dominican stereotypes.
The play will also be shown 22-26 September at 10 am and 8:30 pm at the Sala Ravelo.
Starring roles are played by Laura Guzmán (María Viveza), Henry Mercedes (Pedro Baile), Ramón Matrille (Deputy Medina Rubirosa), Clara Luz Lozano (Maria Paulino), and Doris Sánchez (Rosa Velorio). The play is produced by Mariela Freundt.
The National Theater's drama season continues with: "Creonte" from 1 October to 7 November; "La Trinitaria Blanca," from 12 November to 5 December and "Chicken Cordon Blue," from 14 January to 6 February.
National Symphony Orchestra season continues
National Theater presents, Symphony Season 1999.
Tickets: RD$150-RD$120 for sale at the National Theater.
22 September 1999
Piero Gamba, conductor
Erling Bentsson, cello solo
Works by:
McMussorgsky: A Night at Monte Calvo
P. I. Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello and orchestra.
A. Dvorak: B. Symphony No. 9 (New World)
29 September 1999
Fernando Geraldes, conductor
Zvezdana de Tabar, violin solo
Franz Ureña Rib, viola solo
Participation of the National Choir
Works by:
Mc Luna: Tres Preludios para Cuerdas
J.S. Bach: Cantata No. 172 for choir and orchestra
W. A. Mozart: Concert Symphony for violin, viola and orchestra K364
I. Stravinsky: Firebird Suite
6 October 1999
Alejandro Posada Gomez, conductor
Works by:
A. Mejia: Pequeña Suite, Aires Sinfónicos Colombianos
L. U. Bueno: El Cucarrón (Pasillo)
M. A. Martin: Carmentea (Joropo).
G. P. Alvarez: Mi Buenaventura (Currulao)
H. L. Bermudez: Prende la Vela (Mapale)
L.V. Beethoven: Symphony No. 8
CTO annual conference in Santo Domingo
Final organization works are taking place for the celebration in Santo Domingo of the Caribbean Tourism Organizations 23rd annual Caribbean Tourism Conference. The event will be held 23-25 September at the Renaissance Jaragua Hotel & Casino of Santo Domingo. President Leonel Fernández is expected to address the delegates at the opening session. Chris Mottershead, managing director of Airtours Holidays, a leading UK tour operator, will be the keynote speaker. Workshop topics include:
Tourism marketing in the new millennium;
Cruising into the 21st century: Trends, forecasts and implications for Caribbean destinations.
Developments in the Caribbean time-share industry;
E-commerce: How to buy and sell on the information highway
Health, safety and security expectations of the visitor: Is the Caribbean ready?
Charting a new course for tourism education and training.
For more information, see the Caribbean Tourism Organization web page at www.caribtourism.com

Tribute to bolero music in October
"Con la Magia del Bolero...100 Años Despues" will be an evening dedicated to romance at the stages of the Teatro Lafiesta in Santo Domingo (Friday, 1 October) and Centro Español in Santiago (Saturday, 2 October). Romantic boleros will be staged by legends such as Lucho Gatica, Olga Guillot, Lope Balaguer, Anthony Ríos and Francis Santana.

Expo Europa set for October
More than 130 Dominican and foreign companies will participate in the Vth Expo Europa '99 exhibition, sponsored by the Federation of European Chambers of Commerce of the DR and the Office for the Promotion of Foreign Investment (OPI). The event will take place at the convention center of the Hotel Dominican Fiesta from 7-10 October.

Iberoamerican Theater Festival starts 11 October
The National Theater is announcing the Second International Iberoamerican Theater Festival. The festival was first held in 1997. This time, Dominican works will be included in the program of plays to be presented. Dominican plays that will be shown are "Amanda," "Quijote," and "Wish-ky Sour."
The festival is a series of theatrical presentations, forums and workshops on theater. The activities will take place at the Eduardo Brito and Ravelo halls of the Teatro Nacional, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Museo de Historía y Geografía, Paraboloide del Museo de Arte Moderno and the Museo de Historia Nacional through 24 October.
The event has become a place for the encounter of leading playwrights from Ibero America. Participants are coming from Spain, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and Argentina.

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