July 22, 2003
  • New name for Autovía del Este
  • Mecca for sports in the Americas
  • Upsurge for tourism 
  • Adventure tourism to fund-raising
  • Ocean World adventures
New name for Autovía del Este
President Hipolito Mejia decreed that the Autovía del Este will now be known as Avenida Presidente Antonio Guzman. The Autovia del Este runs from Boca Chica to San Pedro de Macoris (Juan Dolio and Guayacanes beaches). The construction of the highway cut by about half an hour the time it takes to drive from Santo Domingo to La Romana. 
The new highway will now honor President Guzman, 1978-1982. President Mejía was Minister of Agriculture during the Guzmán administration.
Mecca for sports in the Americas
The Dominican Republic has a chance at becoming the mecca for major world sports events. At least it will have the venues for the time being. 
The Mejía administration has built world class sports installations for the Pan American Games that will take place 1-17 August and thereafter the possibility of hosting major regional and world tournaments is open. The challenge will be to fund the adequate maintenance of the venues and the marketing efforts to attract world class sports events that justify the hefty governmental investment in the sports facilities.
President Mejía himself is optimistic the investment will pay off in increased visits of tourists. “These works will serve to promote the country as a touristic destination – not only for beaches, but also for sports,” he said. 
The world class venues include the plush Palmarejo Equestrian Center and the Rincon Dam rowing and canoeing venue. Also, the mountain bike trail in Jarabacoa. 
But facilities at the East Park are also majestic. The new sports facility has several arenas with capacity to host large audiences. These include:
  • Tennis stadium - 3,800 persons
  • Gymnastics pavilion - 3,625 persons
  • Table tennis – 1,800 persons
  • Weightlifting – 1,644 persons
  • Hockey on grass – 965 persons
  • Archery arena – 900 persons
  • Amphitheater – 5,000 persons

For information on the Games, see http://panamgames2003.com

Upsurge for tourism
The latest Central Bank figures show that tourism in the Dominican Republic was up 18% for the first six months of the year, with nearly 245,000 more visitors arriving during this period than in 2002. By the Central Bank’s calculation, these tourists produced US$1.61 billion for the economy and, if current trends continue until the end of the year, over US$3 billion would be generated by the tourism industry. Average hotel occupation for the six-month period was 73.8%, appreciably more than the 64.1% occupancy recorded for 2002. These statistics place the Dominican Republic at the head of Caribbean tourist destinations. Among the catalysts for the increase, the Central Bank cited the devaluation of the peso and the intensified public relations campaign being waged by the hotel association and tour operators. Punta Cana is the leading airport, receiving 46.9% of all tourists arriving here.
Adventure tourism to fund-raising
Tricia Thorndike Suriel, the Ithaca, New York resident who ran a ski school in Colorado, and then traded in the mountains for the beach when she moved to Cabarete. For about 10 years she promoted mountain biking, exploring and adventure sports – Iguana Mama from her base in Cabarete. Now she has moved back with her family to New York and continues to want to make a difference and contribute her talents to helping the Dominican poor. Thorndike seeks to help Dominicans help themselves through better educational opportunities and has put together several school projects and scholarship programs. The project is now referred to as The Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring Project (DREAM) Project, that enables tourists visiting the country to make a difference. For more information see http://dominicandream.org
Ocean World adventures
Ocean World Adventure Park in Cofresí, Puerto Plata is open to the general public. The largest aquatic center in the Caribbean, the park prepares for a full opening in March 2004, but in the meantime is already an excellent choice for families traveling to the Dominican Republic, and especially those visiting north coast destinations. The park is located in Cofresí, near to the Hacienda, Emi Resort and Rui properties, but less than 20 minutes from Playa Dorada resorts, too. 
Once fully constructed, the park will feature the largest lagoon for interacting with dolphins in the world and a private white sand beach. The park is a US$35 million investment, according to Antonio Lopez, marketing manager. 
Now for a special US$55 introductory price, tourists can attend the sea lion show, snorkel through their amazing tropical reef pool with 100% visibility, observe the interactive swim-with-the-dolphin programs, have lunch at the ocean view restaurant, and shop in the well-stocked gift shop, with its amazing selection of books, souvenirs and sea-and-beach related items. The price also includes round trip bus pick up from your Puerto Plata hotel. 
Swimming with the dolphins is also possible, but reservations need to be made well in advance. The cost is US$120. An encounter with the dolphins can be booked for US$75. 
For more information, contact Tania Padilla at [email protected]

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