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August 8, 2006
  • Cabo Rojo airport ready this month
  • 4 million tourists in 2006
  • Long Beach restoration in Puerto Plata
  • Big Papi makes headlines
Cabo Rojo airport ready this month
The Airport Department has announced that the refurbishment of the Cabo Rojo domestic airport, which had been out of service for two decades, will be completed this month. Cabo Rojo is in the remote southwestern province of Pedernales. The airport's operations are expected to boost the development of tourist sites along beaches in the area, especially Bahia de las Aguilas, as private planes and tour operators will soon be able to offer packages, according to Airport Department Director Andres Vanderhorst. Diario Libre reports that in addition to the Cabo Rojo terminal, the Airport Department is working on the refurbishment of airports in Portillo, (Samana), Montecristi and Dajabon, all of which should be ready by the end of the year.
4 million tourists in 2006
Tourism Minister Felix Jimenez forecasts four million tourists for 2006 and says that the government will be investing US$5 billion in tourism infrastructure through 2008. He said that the country receives US$3 billion in revenue from the tourism sector. Jimenez spoke about the government's tourism development policies at the UNAPEC university last week.
He mentioned that the Ministry has projects under way for spending US$22 million on tourism promotion to attract more tourists. He said that the country's strengths included the hospitality and cheerfulness of Dominican people, the quality of the beaches and the climate. He said that the country needed to work on improving its infrastructure, roads in bad condition, poor lighting and the surroundings of several tourism destinations. He says that his department is working on reducing the growth of slums in the proximity of some tourism destinations, improving security and hygiene in these areas as well as tourism security. He mentioned the specific case of Puerto Plata, where the Ministry of Tourism is carrying out major programs for sewage expansion, sidewalks, and regeneration of beaches. Others will be soon under way in Boca Chica and Juan Dolio in the southeast. Jimenez said that most tourists visiting the country come from the US, Canada, Germany, England, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium. He added that the government wants to increase the number of visitors from former eastern Germany, Mexico and Brazil.
Long Beach restoration in Puerto Plata
US$7 million has been spent on the regeneration of Long Beach in Puerto Plata. For the first half of the 20th century, Long Beach was the main draw for beach tourism in the Dominican Republic outside of Boca Chica. The beach was abandoned for some 30 years back when lack of planning resulted in sewage contaminating the beach. Now, a World Bank project has installed a sanitary system that is already in operation. Felix Jimenez sees the regeneration project as returning a beach to the city of Puerto Plata. The Ministry expects the project to attract investors to exploit the real estate worth of the property adjacent to the beach. The government, parallel to the depositing of new sands on the beach, carried out a major eviction program and tore down brothels and other seedy establishments that had sprung up around the abandoned beach.
Jimenez announced that the Ministry plans to build an Altos de Chavon-type amphitheater beside the San Felipe Fort. The government is also backing, with private investment and by concession, of a 40-meter wide dock in front of the Puerto Plata city boardwalk (Malecon), where restaurants and bars with Victorian-style architecture will be built. The design of this project has been entrusted to architect Sarah Garcia, daughter of businessman Isidro Garcia, owner of VH Hotels & Resorts, said the Minister of Tourism.
Big Papi makes headlines
Dominican David Ortiz, the charismatic Boston Red Sox designated hitter, made plenty of sports headlines last week for hitting his 40th home run of the season. The significance of the home run was that he became the first Sox player to hit 40 or more in three consecutive seasons.
In addition, Ortiz has won the American League Player of the Month Award for July. Press stories highlight that no other player has kept the pace going at the rate of Ortiz. Since 31 July 2005, in a span of 161 games, Ortiz is credited with landing 60 homers and driving in 166 runs. But what has endeared Ortiz most to Boston fans is his uncanny ability to win the game in tight situations, such as in the late innings. Since joining the Red Sox at the start of the 2003 season, David Ortiz has hit nine walk-off homers (including postseason) to decide Boston games, including this season one on 11 June (9th, Sox 5, Rangers 4), one on 24 June (10th, Sox 5, Phillies 3) and another on 31 July (9th, Sox 9, Indians 8).
In July, Ortiz reached base safely in 21 games and finished the month with 87 total bases. In 26 games overall, he batted .339 (37-109) and hit 14 home runs with 35 RBI. In July, Ortiz lead the Majors with 37 home runs and 105 RBI. He also recorded six doubles and one triple while posting a .429 on-base percentage and a .798 slugging percentage last month. The three-time All-Star drove in two or more runs in a game on nine different occasions last month. Ortiz had three multi-home run games in the month, giving him four for the season and a total of 24 career multi-homer games.
See http://www.mlb.com and http://www.boston.com

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