September 23, 2003
  • Iberia could return hub to SD?
  • Puerto Plata report
  • Jazz Festival schedule
  • Air Canada to fly to Punta Cana
  • National Symphony in NY
Iberia could return hub to SD?
The new head of Iberia, Fernando Conte favors moving Iberia’s hub back to Santo Domingo, as reported in Diario Libre. Iberia operated a hub at Las Americas International Airport catering to their Central American and South American passengers in 1991 only to move to Miami a year later when airport taxes increased. Danilo del Rosario, head of the Center for Exports and Investments (CEI-RD), who traveled to Spain with President Mejía and broke the news from Madrid, said the move back would be transcendental for the country. Del Rosario said Iberia has made a proposal for returning to the country.
On 1 October, the US suspended its Transit Without Visa and International-to-International programs that had allowed travelers eight hours to make connections to third countries. The Homeland Security Department fears some travelers would take advantage of program loopholes to commit future terrorist acts. The Miami Herald reported that about 600,000 passengers travelled under the programs last year, many of them passing through Miami.
Furthermore, and making the Santo Domingo option even more attractive, effective 1 October 2003, the US State Department announced it will require all passport holders from the 27 countries that participate in the US Visa Waiver Program to present a machine-readable passport (MRP) or a non-immigrant visa. This will affect travel for citizens from Australia, Austria, Andorra, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom that only through 1 October can enter the US for 90 days without visa if they have obtained their MRP.
Puerto Plata report
Hans Dannenberg, director of the Puerto Plata Hotel Association, says a tour of 20 member hotels showed only minor structural damage. He reported the hotel sector was left unscathed by the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that hit only 15 kms from Puerto Plata. The earthquake, which was felt at 12;45 am, has been described as sounding like a train arriving at station as it rippled through the north coast. Dannenberg said that the worse damage at the hotels occurred when lamps and television sets fell to the floor.
He commended the tourists who grouped in hotel lobby areas, and the tour operators' reps who arrived shortly after the shake. He said some tourists staying in second- and third-floor rooms requested to be relocated to the first floor. Since this is low season, Dannenberg said the hotels were able to comply with the requests.
While some tourists were obviously jittery during the quake, Dannenberg reported that by later this morning tourists were back on their way to the beaches and pools and that the earthquake should have no fundamental impact on tourism in Puerto Plata, nor should it affect the upcoming Jazz Festival that begins this weekend in Playa Dorada and continues on to Sosua and Cabarete.
Puerto Plata's international airport was closed briefly for a technical evaluation and later reopened for normal operations.
Vice President Milagros Ortiz Bosch visited the North Coast to personally inspect for damages. Sources say that several public schools suffered major damages and 18,000 school children have been left without classrooms. Ortiz Bosch was Minister of Education until taking a leave of absence to campaign for the PRD presidential candidacy. She is actually the Acting President in the absence of President Hipólito Mejía who is completing a tour of Spain, Israel, Jordan and Holland.
Destinations outside of the north coast have not been affected.
Jazz Festival schedule
El Bosque Café is accepting bookings for the Friday, 26 September prelude to the DR Jazz Festival that opens Wednesday, 1 October in Puerto Plata. Organizers are inviting to come and celebrate. On the evening’s program are Roberto Santana (piano), Carlos Estrada (saxo), Rafelito Suberví (percussion), Wilson Bencosme (bass). For booking cinner and reservation, call 809 571-2186. The DR Jazz Festival program features Jose Furito Ríos (Sosua Bay) on Wednesday, 1 October. Patricia Pereyra (Cabarete Beach) on Thursday, 2 October. Chichí Peralta (Playa Dorada), on Friday, 3 October. Chucho Valdez (Casa Marina, Sosua) on Saturday, 4 October. The event is set to close on Sunday, 5 October at the Gran Teatro in Santiago. For more information, see http://drjazzfestival.com
Air Canada to fly to Punta Cana
Air Canada offers direct flights from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, London, Halifax and Moncton in Canada. The first Air Canada Vacations charter is set to fly in on 26 October connecting Toronto once a week. Montreal follows on 1 November, with another once a week flight until moving up to two a week starting 20 December. Ottawa, Winnipeg, London flights start in December, too. While Halifax service commences in January 2004 and Moncton gets a connection on February 2004.
National Symphony in NY
The National Symphony orchestra will give a guest performance at the Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center, this coming Friday, 26 September. The hall has capacity for 1,096 persons and is located on the north side of Lincoln Center Plaza at Broadway and 65th St. Tickets are: US$25-US$45. Maestro Carlos Piantini will conduct the orchestra. The presentation is part of Dominican Week activities coordinated by the RVHB law firm. It will be an evening to honor Dominican composers and their music. Repertoire includes works by Manuel Simó, Luis Mena, José Dolores Cerón and Bienvenido Bustamante. The event is sponsored by the Dominican American Chamber of Commerce. For more information, see http://www.rvhb.com

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