March 28, 2003 - 12,900+ subscribers and growing!
  • Slow Food in Santo Domingo
  • Monitoring the travel situation
  • Quantifying the effects of the Iraq War on travel
  • Dominican blood in the Miss USA
Slow Food in Santo Domingo
Slow Food, the organization that educates in matters of gastronomy and preaches a slower lifestyle, is active in the Dominican Republic. An educational tour of the Carrefour mega-store located on Autopista Duarte was held on Saturday and was followed up by an eight-course dinner prepared by French chef Perez at the restaurant of the School of Culinary Arts of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra. The fresh ingredients Slow Food members had learned about during the Carrefour tour were turned into culinary wonders for the gala evening, which marked Slow Food’s second formal activity in Santo Domingo. The Santo Domingo branch of the worldwide organization was founded in October 2002. As well as accenting the importance of the table as a centerpiece of pleasure, Slow Food also focuses on the revival of seasonal culinary tradition and promotes land and ecologically sound food production. The first event focused on the musaceas (plantain and its cousin, the banana, and the lesser known “rulo”). 
Slow Food Santo Domingo’s next event will be a visit to an aquaculture farm, where the fine “dorada” fish (served in a vanilla sauce at the Carrefour dinner) are bred. For more information on the movement in Santo Domingo, contact [email protected]
. Click here for more details
Monitoring the travel situation
Johnny Bernal, president of the National Hotel & Restaurant Association, told Hoy newspaper that hotels have not reported any significant cancellations of their bookings. He said that while the volume of reservations for the summer season is below normal levels, he nevertheless pointed out that the end of April and May are normally “shoulder weeks” to the winter and summer travel seasons. 
Frank Rainieri said that the arrival of travelers via the Punta Cana International Airport has declined a mere 4-5%, an insignificant amount by industry standards. He said that with the winter travel season coming to an end, this is only normal. Rainieri also mentioned that Punta Cana hotels enjoyed occupancies of 80% this winter, with very few cancellations. “Up until now the effects of the US-Iraq war have not been felt in the travel sector. Already a week into the war, we need to continue monitoring the situation even more closely,” he said. “Our biggest concern is that the war be prolonged and petroleum prices go up again, as this affects travel because it increases the cost of air travel,” he explained. 
Meanwhile, a new trend in the worldwide travel industry is that consumers are giving shorter advance notice when booking trips. Some travelers are now booking at last minute to take advantage of lower airfares and flexible air cancellation policies that didn’t exist before. 
Quantifying the effects of the Iraq War on travel
The World Travel & Tourism Council had forecast that the Dominican Republic would see an increase of 4.4% in 2003, compared to 2002 travel statistics. In light of the war under way, however, WTTC expects the country to see a 0.3% loss. This difference of –4.7%, is the additional negative impact associated with an inconclusive or prolonged military engagement. WTTC says the country stands to lose US$251 million in revenues due to the war. Furthermore, the travel think tank organization says that the war could have local repercussions, in which 20,000 jobs could be lost. Click here for more details
Dominican blood in the Miss USA
Susie Castillo, whose father is Dominican and mother Puerto Rican, won the title of Miss USA 2003 last night in San Antonio, Texas. The former Miss Massachusetts will next represent the United States at the Miss Universe pageant, to be held in Panama next May. 
Castillo grew up speaking Spanish and has been modeling since age 14. Now 23 years old and a graduate of Endicott College’s Architecture/Design program in Massachusetts, Castillo tells a story of perseverance. “I'm especially proud that despite the fact I'm a product of divorced parents and come from a low-income community, I've defeated the odds. Out of the group of my childhood friends, I was the only one to graduate from both high school and college, and am pursuing my dreams.”
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