May 18, 2004
  • Travel up 8.1% to DR
  • Punta Cana continues to lead in arrivals
  • Charter destinations
  • Performance of source markets
  • Reasons for visiting
Travel up 8.1% to DR
Central Bank statistics indicate that foreign air travel is up 8.1% to the Dominican Republic during the first four months of the year. So far this year, some 100,692 more tourists have come by air than came from January through April in 2003. Tourism continues to be one of the bright spots in Dominican economy. Foreign tourist arrivals were up 8.6%, while non-resident Dominican arrivals increased 8.9%.
The Central Bank attributed the increase to the higher purchasing power of the US dollar in the DR, which continues to be a magnet attracting increasing numbers of tourists. Word is out that the DR, which has always been a good value destination, is on a clearance sale. Statistics analysts also attribute the increase in arrivals to the recovery of the US economy towards the end of 2003.
The increase in arrivals has upped hotel occupancy 5% this year to a nationwide average of 85%. La Romana-Bayahibe area posts 93% occupancy, followed by Punta Cana-Bavaro with 92%. Puerto Plata occupancy was at 84%, while Boca Chica-Juan Dolio in the southeast posted an average 75% occupancy. Santo Domingo, which depends on business travelers, experienced 50% occupancy, a 13% decline compared to last yearís occupancy.
Punta Cana continues to lead in arrivals
Punta Cana continues to be the leading tourist destination in the Dominican Republic, with 47% of all air arrivals landing at that terminal. Next was Puerto Plata, which was port of entry for 24% of foreign air arrivals. Traffic to Puerto Plata was up 29% for the period. Las Americas (Santo Domingo) followed with 17%, and the Cibao (Santiago) and Herrera international in Santo Domingo made up for the remaining 2.1% arrivals.
For the January-April 2004 period, some 517,632 arrivals, mostly foreign tourists, arrived at the Punta Cana International Airport. Puerto Plata received 269,652 foreign passengers, Las Americas 192,253 and La Romana 101,559.
Charter destinations
Primarily a port of arrival for sun-seeking vacationers, Punta Cana International leads the nation in number of charter flight arrivals. During the January-April period, the Punta Cana airport received 481,664 passengers on board charter flights. Only 21,408 passengers arrived on scheduled flights. Puerto Plata, in the north coast, received 179,183 passengers on board charters, and 39,596 passengers were transported on regular flights. Las Americas primarily handled regular flights, with 335,870 passengers on board these regular flights and only 9,037 passengers coming on charters. La Romana international received 88,822 passengers on charters and 20,576 passengers by regular flights. All traffic into Cibao International Airport (Santiago) flew in on regular flights. 93% of Punta Canaís arrivals flew in on charter, 82% of La Romanaís, contrary to Las Americas, where charter traffic made up only 3.8% of total incoming flights.
The Central Bank says that charter traffic increased 11.6% for the period, while regular flight traffic was only up 3.2%. Regular scheduled flights are affected by the depreciation of the peso, which has affected the ability of Dominicans to travel during the first four months of the year.
Performance of source markets
The United States and Canada travelers made up 54.5% of the total foreign tourist arrivals to the Dominican Republic during the first four months of the year. Europeans are in second place with 40.9%. From South American came another 2.6% of the total arrivals.
The United States continues to be the leading source market for travel to the Dominican Republic with 29.4% of the total foreign air arrivals. For the first four months of 2004, some 324,629 tourists came from the US, 8.7% more than for the same period last year. Canadian travel at 272,111 made up for 24.7% of all foreign tourist arrivals. Canadian arrivals for January-April were up 6.3%.
Regarding European source markets, growth markets for the first four months of the year were France, up 10.6% (from 127,091 in 2003 to 140,503 in 2004); Spain, up 36.6% (from 42,451 in 2003 to 57,996 in 2004); the United Kingdom up 61.4% (from 34,594 in 2003 to 55,842 in 2004); Holland, up 82.2% (from 10,541 in 2003 to 19,210 in 2004); and Sweden, up 270% (from 1,234 in 2003 to 4,566 in 2004). German travel declined 8.7% (down from 85,674 in 2003 to 78,213 in 2004), and as did Italian travel, which dropped 11.5%, from 56,147 travelers to 49,684 in 2004 for the first four months of the year.
The main tourist source markets in Europe are France, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and Italy.
Reasons for visiting
Exit polls indicate that 96.8% of foreign air arrivals come for leisure reasons. Of these 95.2% stayed at hotels. 60.4% of the travelers are in the 21-49 year age bracket. Airport statistics show that 70,168 arrivals were children aged 0-12 years, this is up 4.5% over the figures for last year. Likewise, some 87,139 were in the 13-20 year age bracket, 26.7% more than last yearís 68,770 arrivals in this age group.
Central Bank statistics show that 50.8% of the foreign air arrivals were men, including those coming for business purposes and entering with the purchase of a tourist card. Some 24,422 visitors came for business or conference engagements this year. This is 22% up last yearís 20,008 business or conference arrivals.
During the first four months of the year, the Dominican government sold 1,070,213 tourist cards, thus tourism produced US$10 million in revenues for the Dominican government at the ports of entry.

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