June 17, 2003
  • Hotels still up over last year
  • Magnetic pole of Cabral in the news
  • Cruise lines back in town
  • Baby turtles born in Samana
Hotels still up over last year
In spite of entering the so-called “low season”, hotel occupancy is still over 16% more than last year. Samaná and Puerto Plata are showing significant recovery for 2003, while Santo Domingo continues in a slump. Hotel occupancy grew by 21.3% in May of this year over May of 2002, going from 50.7% previously to 61.5% this year. This improvement has been maintained for the first five months of the year, according to statistics from the National Association of Hotels and Restaurants (Asonahores). 
While Santo Domingo showed a negative growth for the period, most of the other regions showed double-digit improvements over 2002. Puerto Plata showed an 8.5% increase over 2002; Samaná led all areas with a 51% growth over last year (from 40.5% occupancy to 61.4%); and Sosúa and Cabarete weighed in with a combined 41% growth. Asonahores considered the growth of the Puerto Plata region, which includes Playa Dorada, Cofresí and Costa Dorada, to be “noteworthy”. 
Even with overall occupancy having fallen during April and May, things are considered to be normal, as April is the tail end of the “high” season and May is the beginning of the “low” season. Despite the falloff, overall occupancy continues to be more than 10% higher than last year.
Magnetic pole of Cabral in the news
There are fewer places ‘far from the beaten path’ than the road to Cabral, Barahona Province, and yet there is one of the strangest places on earth, right there -- the famous “polo magnético”or magnetic pole of Cabral. Why you ask? Because there is a spot on that road that, if you leave your car in neutral, it will travel up what appears to be an incline with no aid from any obvious exterior force. According to Eugenio Urbáez, a tiny 94 year old man, full of facts about the strange place, who was recently interviewed by El Caribe newspaper, the movement is caused by two mines that are below the surface. One is petroleum and the other is sulfur. While this is hardly true, the fact remains that objects move uphill at this location, be they bottles or balls or cars or trucks. 
However, except for a tiny sign put up by the Brugal Company, there is nothing to indicate the truly interesting spot. Oh there was a big circle painted on the highway with a yellow dot in the middle, but that has been worn away and now the adventurous tourist just has to find Eugenio Urbáez. Don Eugenio lives nearby, on a hill called La Cueva (The Cave), and every weekend he patiently explains to tourists, both local and foreign, just how the phenomenon works. One of his important instruments is a full bottle of water that he places on the spot and with no help from anyone, slowly begins to ascend the incline. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and all the holidays, don Eugenio is there for the curious. The Polo Magnético is famous on the Internet, and tourists from all over the world have come to visit with don Eugenio. It is located on the tiny highway between Cabral and Polo, to the West of Barahona, off highway 46 that goes from Barahona to Duvergé and is one of the attractions of those venturing out to visit the southwest of the Dominican Republic.
Cruise lines back in town
The Diario Libre reports that the remodeling of the Port of La Romana is sparking expectations for larger numbers of cruise ships calling at Dominican ports. The reconstruction of the wharf at Puerto Plata and the multi-modal port at Caucedo are also seen as excellent indicators for growth in the cruise ship industry. La Romana will have the capacity to receive cruise ships of up to 70,000 tons and will allow for the renewed visits by Carnival and Costa Cruise lines. The reconditioning of the docks at Sans Souci in Santo Domingo is continuing, where tour operators look forward to their completion. In a related story in El Caribe, the governor of the Puerto Plata province, former senator Ginette Bournigal, says that the provinces of Santiago, Puerto Plata and Espaillat must unite to push Congress to pass legislation favorable to the development of the region. For example, the governor said that while the Congress is happily passing bond issuances for hundreds of millions of dollars, for a highway in the East, nothing is being done for the highways of the North Coast. She warned that if the North Coast does not revitalize its offerings to tourists, soon they will have nothing left to offer. Miguel Jiménez Messon, president of the Free Zone Association of Puerto Plata, explains that the proposal for a new proposed Tourist Wharf, along with the removal of the floating generators in the bay, will convert Puerto Plata into a “mother port”, where tourists can fly in, stay at a hotel and then leave by ship. He pointed out that these types of tourists are much different from those that visit the all-inclusive hotels of the region, saying, “They spend more, they like to go to restaurants… and they bring money to spend.”
Baby turtles born in Samaná
Hotel La Isabela in Cozón, Las Terrenas (Samaná) has very special guests these days. Some 224 leatherback turtles (Tortuga Tinglar) hatched on the lovely northeastern beach thanks to the ecological awareness of the management of the hotel that set off the area chosen by the mother turtles. The director of conservation of coastal marine resources of the Ministry of Enrivornment, Felicia Heredia praised the hotel management for their efforts to assist the two mother turtles that laid their eggs there, as reported in El Caribe newspaper. The management set off the area of the nests and made sure there was 24 hour vigilance to protect the special guests and provided lodging and meal for Antonia Marte, the expert in coastal marine resources that supervised the birthing. 
The Leatherback Sea Turtle ( Dermochelys coriacea ) is the largest living turtle. The turtles face extinction as their eggs have been known to be stolen, and their birth process is many times affected by artificial lighting and human encroachment primarily due to ignorance.

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