November 18, 2003
  • Miguelina Ortiz named Minister of Tourism
  • Punta Cana to Moscow
  • Wyndham opens 1 December in DR
  • French tourists left stranded
Miguelina Ortiz named Minister of Tourism
After over 25 years in the field, Miguelina Ortiz was appointed last week Minister of Tourism. The nomination was made public when she was abroad heading the Dominican delegation that was attending the London World Travel Market.
In 1979, Ortiz first joined the Dominican government tourism department working under Victor Cabral. She held posts as events assistant, assistant to the administrative director and director of international relations. She continued in the ministry working under several other incumbents, including Ellis Pérez, Andrés Vanderhorst, Luis Taveras and her predecessor at the Ministry, Rafael Suberví Bonilla (1982-86). In 1994, Suberví and Ortiz married. When Suberví was appointed Minister of Tourism for the second time in 2000, Ortiz continued to be his closest collaborator.
Suberví Bonilla has taken a leave to seek the presidential nomination for the ruling PRD political party.
Punta Cana to Moscow
Transaero (http://www.transaero.ru/) will begin non-stop service from Moscow (MOW) to Punta Cana (PUJ) effective 30 December. The flight will take 12 hours and 10 minutes, with a shorter return trip of 11 hours and 10 minutes. The airline will reportedly fly over Scandinavia, then to Iceland, entering over Canada and finally across the Atlantic Ocean to arrive at Punta Cana. As reported in the DR1 Airline Forum, and pending confirmation by the airline, the Russian carrier will fly the following schedule:
  • UN 9197 MOW PUJ 763 0900 1400 *2*****
  • UN 9198 PUJ MOW 763 1530 1030+*2*****

Hans Dannenberg, the marketing consultant to the Ministry of Tourism, confirmed DR1 Airline Forum advance reports that VIM Avia and Aviaenergo Airlines will operate flights to La Romana. The schedules are Moscow-Shannon-La Romana and Moscow-Gander (Newfoundland, Canada)-La Romana.
Talks are ongoing to include Russian flights to Puerto Plata, also.
The WTO rates Russia as the 10th top world travel source market.
The flights are the result of negotiations made by Ministry of Tourism officials during the Moscow travel fair. Dannenberg believes the DR is about to be discovered in full force by the Russian travel market.

Wyndham opens 1 December in DR
Wyndham International, the fifth largest US hotel chain and the largest hotel brand in the Caribbean, will become a major player in Dominican travel as of 1 December. Under a 10-year strategic alliance agreement, the seven Viva Resorts properties in the Bahamas, Mexico and the three in the Dominican Republic are being re-branded as Viva Wyndham Resorts and incorporated into the Wyndham marketing portfolio.
Fred Kleisner, chairman and CEO of Windham, announced that the marketing partnership will allow them to expand both into new Caribbean and Mexican markets, with guests who seek all-inclusive resort experiences. In an interview with El Caribe newspaper, Kleisner said the DR has all it needs to become a leading destination with US travelers. “The people are perfect, the beaches are perfect, the resorts are perfect, the destination is perfect, but you can’t keep it all a secret,” he said. He feels more marketing muscle is needed. He said the US traveler has the perception that the DR is a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. In his own opinion, after traveling the country, he said the DR deserves a 9.
"Building a strong partnership with a brand like Wyndham is the key component to ensuring our guests enjoy a consistent, upscale hotel product," said Viva Resorts president, Ettore Colussi. The Dominican partners expect Wyndham's highly-regarded industry reputation will help them fast-track the chain’s awareness in the US, pulling in more US travelers.
Rafael Blanco Canto, executive vice-president of Viva Resorts, said the alliance is a big step forward towards delivering what appeals most to the US market.
Viva Wyndham properties in the DR as of 1 December are:
  • The 500-room Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach – La Romana-Bayahibe
  • The 330-room Viva Wyndham Dominicus Palace – La Romana-Bayahibe
  • The soon-to-open, 223-room Viva Wyndham Tangerine – Cabarete

The Viva Wyndham resorts in the Dominican Republic and Bahamas bring Wyndham's Caribbean portfolio to 16 properties on eight islands, including Aruba, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dutch Antilles and US Virgin Islands.
Founded in 1997, Viva Resorts built a reputation on selling value-packed, all-inclusive vacations that provided a culturally-inspired ambience, high-energy atmosphere with international accents on food and service.
Wyndham operates 200 hotels in the US, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic, for a global inventory of 42,000 rooms.

French tourists left stranded
One hundred and forty French and Swiss tourists were left in the lurch in Puerto Plata when the tour operator that had brought them to the North Shore closed up shop. The Swiss company, Avione Travel, did not pay the hotel where the tourists were staying and apparently ceased operations while the tourists were vacationing in Cabarete. The French Press Agency (AFP) carried the story. According to spokespeople from the French Embassy in Santo Domingo, the Swiss company was negotiating with French diplomats and the local agency that represents the foreign travel broker. Employees of the Hotel Camino del Sol reported that conversations were still ongoing as late as 10:30pm yesterday. The Dominican company Go Dominicana Travel confirmed that diplomats and representatives of Avione Travel were working on a solution. At present time, there is a marked increase in French tourists in the Puerto Plata–Cabarete area, and other companies such as Nouvelle Frontier have a long history of satisfied clients.

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