May 20, 2003
  • Focus on cruiseship travel
  • Are the days of all-inclusive resorts counted?
  • Sell the north coast as one destination
  • An event for the entire family
Focus on cruiseship travel
The Euromoney Caribbean Investment Forum held in La Romana focused on how a destination can gain amidst the strong cruise ship travel trends in the market. During a tourism conference held as part of the conference, panelists discussed options. 
Dominican Rafael Blanco, of La Romana/Bayahibe hotels feels there can indeed be synergies to turn what could be a negative into a positive. He points to the fact that the cruiseship market is the fastest growing segment in the Caribbean, and that cruise ships are today destinations in themselves or potential formidable competitors to land-based hotel operations. In the best of all worlds, he feels the Caribbean should unite to levy heavier taxes on the ships to help build and sustain facilities. He commented that any airline ticket to La Romana will leave US$62 in taxes and airport fees, while maritime passengers will only pay US$10 tourist card. Comparatively, the hotel guest will leave US$1,000 in the country, compared to US$20 for the cruise ship tourist. 
But he feels that Caribbean sites can gain by becoming home port for cruiseships. He pointed to the case of the new La Romana terminal where now ships source local produce and guests stay over at the hotels. He mentioned the cooperative effort where a La Romana hotel school trains cruiseship personnel and provides the visiting ships with Dominican crews. Likewise, La Romana benefits because cruiseships bus tourists to Altos de Chavon and Marina shopping centers that are part of Casa de Campo. 
Paul Brown of McKinsey Consulting urged Caribbean countries to work closely with the cruise ship operators to get across to visiting short-stay tourists the message that the destination is worth returning to. 
Fernando Gomez, president of the Juan Dolio Hotel Association, concurs that the cruise ships need not be seen as competitors. “What has to be done is to find ways to promote the Caribbean destinations more effectively on board the ships,” he told his audience. “We need to draw bridges so that the governments and cruise lines can work together to make joint promotions.” 
Are the days of all-inclusive resorts counted?
Paul Brown of McKinsey Consulting, Rafael Blanco of Bayahibe/La Romana destination, and Fernando Gomez, president of Juan Dolio hotels, feel the all-inclusive have ample room to grow and gave insights into this market segment during the Euromoney Caribbean Investment Forum held in La Romana. Brown envisions a hybrid model will evolve to accommodate more sophisticated travelers. He pointed out that even Disney is moving to the all-inclusive model, while at the same time offering other options to visitors. “The issue here is to offer options,” he says. “Allow guests to mix and mingle in the same area. Customers like it quite well. It is about choice.”
Blanco, who is also a spokesman for the Viva Resorts, agrees that the discriminating traveler wants more culture, wants to be able to meet the people, and to be more in tune with the environment of the place he is visiting. He said his company is experimenting in Mexico with including restaurants that are outside their resorts in their packages so that tourists can experience a night on the town. He envisions offering this to guests staying at their Dominican properties in the near future. Furthermore, he says the company is already including more tours, including several ecotouristic type adventures in the pre-paid packages they are selling. The idea is that the visitors can have a more complete island visit experience. 
Gomez, also a spokesman for Barcelo properties, the largest all-inclusive operator in the Dominican Republic, feels that the all-inclusive has been evolving in the Dominican Republic. “Everyday our clients are demanding more variety,” he says. “They now are into golf tours, and visits to historic sights are tops on the list,” he says emphasizing that the all-inclusive model has evolved considerably since it was introduced some 20 years ago.
Sell the north coast as one destination
US consulting firms propose that the north coast be promoted as one single region from as far west as Luperon and La Isabela, to as far east as Playa Grande. Ernest & Young and Young & Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell tourism consulting firm, assisted by Chemonics International suggest the integrating of all the north coast destinations to promote the union as one destination. Ellis Perez, a former minister of Tourism, also participated in his role as tourism advisor to the government. 
The competitiveness initiative is part of a US AID project that seeks to identify areas that could lead to a more competitive Dominican economy. 
The study focuses also on the importance of a convention center for the north coast, improving north coast transportation among the individual destinations, increased use of the Internet and the need for a national airline that would support the linking of the north coast with key destinations in the United States. For more information on the study, contact Hans Dannenberg at the Puerto Plata Hotel Association at [email protected]
An event for the entire family
The Caribbean’s largest aeromodelling will be welcoming Dominican and foreign aeromodelling fans next Sunday, 1 June. 
Aeromodelling fans are welcome to visit the Campo de Vuelo Sargent Marine, some 10 minutes from Santo Domingo off Carretera El Higuero, in Santo Domingo Province. 
The most modern aeromodelling facility in the Caribbean it is a 650 meters long and 35 meters wide field for the exhibitions. General admission for the First Aeromodelling Show to be held on a major scale in the Dominican Republic on 1 June is RD$100. Children under five are admitted free. The action will take place as of 5 pm. For more information, call 563-1111, or 562-5949. 

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