August 12, 2003
  • Restaurants big winners of Games
  • Airfare wars
  • Investment to continue in Punta Cana
  • Daily flights to Samana
  • High number of repeat travelers
  • USTA gives Santo Domingo Tennis Center high marks
Restaurants big winners of Games
Dominican restaurants have been one of the big winners of the Pan Am Games. Restaurants have received a boom in free-spending visitors who are reaping the benefit of RD$33+ to US$1 exchange rates in the many eateries in the country that have been catering to the visitors.
Tourists arriving to the Dominican Republic for the Pan Am Games, primarily those accompanying friends and relatives participating in the Games, are likely to return home spreading the word about how far the US$ stretches in the DR.
Airfare wars
American Airlines has decided to defend its turf and is advertising US$199 round trip fares to New York from Santo Domingo or Santiago airports. The decision to lower the fares from standard rates of US$500+ just weeks ago happened after Air Santo Domingo and Aeromar posted very attractive fares on the routes. As a result, thousands of Dominican expatriates that live in New York and environs have been booking vacations in Dominican resorts. It is not unusual to see otherwise “Dominican-looking” tourists reading New York Times bestsellers while sitting on a beach or around a hotel pool. For hoteliers, it is most welcome business, as the expatriates come for week long stays and bring their families, too.
Investment to continue in Punta Cana
President Hipolito Mejia went East last Friday for the formal symbolic opening of the Punta Cana shopping center area – with a bowling alley, shops and restaurants. During the ceremony, Frank Rainieri, president of the Punta Cana Group announced the start of the expansion works at the Punta Cana International Airport.
The Punta Cana airport is enjoying a boom in traffic, and is the main port of entry of tourists to the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana International received 661,000 travelers last year.
During the symbolic ribbon-cutting event, said that this year they would invest RD$1.23 billion in Punta Cana projects and another RD$3.28 billion from 2004-2005. As reported in El Caribe, Rainieri announced the construction of a luxury 400-room hotel, two new golf courses, and expansion of the Punta Cana residential development. He said meetings facilities in the Punta Cana Resort & Club would be enhanced to meet the new demand.
Daily flights to Samana
Aerodomca is offering daily flights from Santo Domingo to Samana on the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic. Thus, tourists arriving to the Las Americas International Airport can take the 4:45 pm flight to Portillo, Samana. Those already in Santo Domingo can take the same flight from Herrera airport in Santo Domingo at 4 pm. The flight makes a stopover in Las Americas to pick up international travelers headed to the Samana resorts in Las Terrenas and Portillo. This is a half an hour flight. The Aerodomca flight replaces the Air Santo Domingo connection, after that airline discontinued these flights to dedicate itself to its San Juan and New York connections. For more information write [email protected]
High number of repeat travelers
According to the Central Bank, 19% of the tourists from North America polled at the airport prior to their departure in 2002 were on a repeat visit to the country. The same exit opinion poll showed that the main reason for their choosing a visit to the Dominican Republic was the climate (26%), followed by the beaches (19.5%). 8.8% of those polled also mentioned the hospitality of the Dominican Republic and 7.9% indicated they came because of the reasonable prices. 4.4% said they came to play golf. The tourists had little interest in casinos, with only 0.2% saying it was a reason to visit.
The study shows that 42% of those who visited the DR, had already been to at least one other Caribbean destinations. 87.6% said they would return to the country, and 62.9% to the same destination within the DR.
Regarding European tourists, the same poll says that 5% were returning visitors, 43.9% came for the climate, 34.4% for the beaches, 7.9% for the hospitality and 2.9% for reasonable prices. Europeans seem to not be keen on golf, as only 0.4% said they came for the golf, and 0% mentioned playing in casinos as a motive to visit.
17.4% of those from Europe who came in 2002 had visited another Caribbean country before. 67.7% said they would return, and 58.2% to the same first destination.
USTA gives Santo Domingo Tennis Center high marks
The Dominican Republic’s biggest challenge is not to win medals during the Pan Am Games. It is to properly maintain and book its new world class sports facilities after the Games. To book major sports events the country needs to exercise its marketing muscle. The good word of mouth sports officers from visiting countries will be spreading, certainly will help.
As posted on the web site of the United States Tennis Association, the USTA officials and coaches are giving high praise to the new Santo Domingo Tennis Center, the venue of the tennis competition at the 2003 Pan American Games. "My hat goes off to Tony Hernandez, the Dominican developer, who created a first-class facility," said Alan Schwartz, Chairman of the Board and President of the United States Tennis Association, who was in attendance at the Pan Am Games tennis competition this week.
The USTA called the new facility “impressive.” The facility has 12 hard courts and a 3,800-seat stadium court. Debbie Graham, coach of the women’s team compared it to the courts used for the US Open.
The good news is that following the Pan Am Games, the new Santo Domingo Tennis Center will host the Davis Cup Group’s American Zone Playoff Tie against Paraguay.
For more on the USTA’s opinion on the new center, see http://www.usta.com/

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