January 13, 2004
  • Punta Cana is ranked fourth by US survey
  • November travel statistics
  • US travelers dominate
  • Migration changes
  • Christian Science Monitor on eco adventures
  • Dominican cave wins AIA Bienal award
Punta Cana is ranked fourth by US survey
Punta Cana, on the East Coast of the Dominican Republic, was ranked by Carlson Wagonlit travel agents as the fourth most popular international vacation destination. Punta Cana was named by 34.8% of the 287 travel agents responding to the chain's 2004 Travel Trends survey, whereas previously it had never made the top 10. "Punta Cana has swiftly become one of our network's best sellers, and our travel experts receive excellent feedback from their customers who've experienced the island," said Roger Block, CTC, executive vice-president of Carlson Wagonlit Travel's Associate Division. He added, "It blends a gorgeous landscape and white beaches with Hispanic culture and a European flair, and its all-inclusive resorts offer a terrific experience for a great value." US travel for 2003 and 2004 is looking good, according to the poll. The recent survey revealed that 83% of respondents said their bookings for the year ahead are the same or better than those of this time last year, and 85% said they are "fairly optimistic" about their business for 2004. The survey, conducted from 20 October to19 November 2003, was completed by 287 Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate owners, managers and frontline agents, representing nearly one in three Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate agency locations throughout the US. According to the survey the top 10 international destinations for 2004 are: Caribbean Cruising (77%), Cancun, Mexico (70.7%), Riviera Maya, Mexico (35.2%), Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (34.8%), Jamaica (34.5%), London, England (27.9%), Playa del Carmen, Mexico (27.5%), Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (19.5%), Mexico Cruising (18.5%), Cozumel, Mexico (16%).
November travel statistics
Travel statistics just released by the Central Bank confirm that 2003 will be a record year for the tourism industry in the Dominican Republic. The number of foreign tourist arrivals during the first 11 months of the year at 2,496,717 is more than ever registered in a single year. In addition, some 440,339 non-resident Dominicans have visited this year, for a total of non-resident arrivals of 2,937,056, also a new record for the DR. The Central Bank attributes the increase in part to the depreciation of the peso that makes travel to the Dominican Republic even more attractive. Nationwide, hotel occupancies were up to 727%, 10 points more than last year's average. The Punta Cana region continued to show the strongest market hold, with an 84% occupancy rate, and 47% of all tourists arriving at that port of entry. Santo Domingo (Las Americas) was second with 22%, Puerto Plata posted 18%, La Romana received 9%, and Santiago (Cibao) received 3% of the inflow.
US travelers dominate
Central Bank statistics for the first 11 months of the year reaffirm the new prevalence of the US traveler, as well as significant increases in European travel to the Dominican Republic.
United States - 783,405 (31.5% market), up 23.2%
Canada - 363,149 (14.6% market), up 35.3%
France - 286,637 (11.5% market), up 32.9%
Germany - 222,454 (8.9% market), up 1.1%
Spain - 186,460 (7.5% market), up 51.5%
United Kingdom - 157,100 (6.3% market), up 16.5%
Italy - 121,392 (4.9% market), up 21.4%
Migration changes
The Department of Migration is now photographing US citizens who enter the DR with birth certificates and photo IDs. The plan has been adopted to reduce the number of illegal aliens who use these documents to later gain illegal entry to the United States. The measure does not affect US citizens who travel using their passports. The computerized systems are in place at each of the international air and maritime ports. Miguel Vasquez Escoto said that the scheme will use the birth certificates primarily of minors entering the country's parameters. The start of this new system coincides with the start of the new US Department of Homeland Security US-VISIT program (United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) in place at US airports and seaports as of 31 December 2003. Scanning equipment is being used to collect fingerprints and digital photographs of the visa-holding visitors to ensure compliance with visa and immigration policies.
Christian Science Monitor on eco adventures
The Christian Science Monitor included a feature on the Dominican Republic recently, with a focus on the fauna and environmental attractions in Punta Cana and the Bayahibe area. There, the writer is introduced to ecologically progressive resorts, the rhinoceros iguanas that are unique to the island, and to "platters and bowls piled with slaw, fried plantains, rice with beans, and freshly caught fish in a tomato broth." For the complete story, see http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1231/p21s01-trgn.html?entryBottomStory
Dominican cave wins AIA Bienal award
The Cueva de las Maravillas, a cave habilitation project implemented by the Ministry of Environment, was awarded the Landscape Architecture-Public Award from the Bienal Miami + Beach. The international contest is part of a week of architectural events created in a collaboration between the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Florida International University School of Architecture, the Tropicalia Program, Competitions Magazine and the Pan American Federation of Architects Associations. The award honors chief architect Marcos Barinas, who also credits the many people who worked with him: Victor Garcia, engineer; Domingo Abreu, cave expert; Pedro Guerrero, entomologist; Amalia Bobea, gardens; Claudio Chea, illumination; and Rickard Toomey and Elizabeth Winkler, international consultants, in addition to many others.
The cave was opened to the public in the summer of 2003 and has been an overall success, especially with tourists visiting the southeastern resort areas of La Romana, Juan Dolio, Guayacanes and Boca Chica. In an interview in the Listin Diario, Barinas commented that the award is a recognition of the great team that worked on the project and the government's decision to bring this outstanding resource to the general public. For more information on the award, see http://www.fiu.edu/~bienal/miamibeach2003/winners/index.html by scrolling down to the category of Landscape Architecture-Public.
Barinas feels the award is important because it is a first-rate competition and because a developing country's project is honored. Secondly, it was a project carried out by the government, which usually is not concerned with quality or originality in architectural design. And lastly, because it is the first time a Dominican architecture project has won first prize in an extra-Caribbean region contest.
The same team that habilitated Cueva de las Maravillas is currently working on the Cuevas del Pomier in San Cristobal, west of Santo Domingo. This is the most important and largest underground cave system in the Caribbean. For more on the caves, see http://www.ceiba.gov.do/?option=Main_Detail

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