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August 15, 2006
  • Two DR Blue Flag Beach candidates
  • Tourist arrivals up 9.42%
  • Punta Cana continues to lead in arrivals
  • Most tourists come from North America
  • The changing Dominican tourism
Two DR Blue Flag Beach candidates
The National Blue Flag Jury approved submitting the beaches of Costa Dorada, Puerto Plata and Coson, Samana to the International Blue Flag Jury, conditioning the approval to the beach areas meeting all criteria of the international beach certification program. Cesar Vargas, national program coordinator, congratulated the hotels Viva Wyndham Samana, Coral Marien by Hilton and Iberostar Costa Dorada for their efforts to prepare the beaches for the accreditation. Special recognition was given to hotel directors Marcello Cutri of Viva Wyndham Samana, Luis Liriano of Coral Marien by Hilton and Maria Jose Berbel of Iberostar Costa Dorada.
The Blue Flag is an exclusive eco-label awarded to over 3,100 beaches and marinas in 36 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada and the Caribbean in 2006. Under the Blue Flag award system, beaches that fulfill a number of exacting criteria regarding factors such as bathing water quality, cleanliness and safety are given the right to fly the Blue Flag. In the Caribbean, the first Blue Flag beach was Dominicus (Laguna) beach in the municipality of Bayahibe, province of La Altagracia, Dominican Republic.
See http://www.blueflag.org
Tourist arrivals up 9.42%
International tourist arrivals to the Dominican Republic were up 9.42% during the first seven months of the year, according to a recent report released by the Central Bank. Some 237,002 more tourists arrived this year than last. Foreign tourist arrivals are up 10.8%, breaking the two-million tourist mark for half year. The Ministry of Tourism has forecast there will be four million international arrivals this year.
The Central Bank attributes the sustained growth in arrivals to the increase in investment in hotels and promotion of the country by both the private and public sectors. This has resulted in an increase in flights from the main source countries.
Central Bank statistics show that the first seven month arrivals in 2003 were 1,693,486, in 2004 they were 1,819,603, in 2005 some 1,960,393 tourists visited and in 2006 the number is 2,172,038.
Punta Cana continues to lead in arrivals
The Punta Cana International Airport continues to be the airport most used by foreign tourists. 51.48% of all tourists landed at the PUJ airport. Puerto Plata's Gregorio Luperon International Airport was second with 18.65% foreign arrivals, and Santo Domingo's Las Americas International Airport was next, with 17.59%. La Romana International Airport handled 7.6% of foreign arrivals, while Santiago's Cibao International Airport welcomed 4.45% of the total. According to Central Bank statistics, travel to Punta Cana in the first seven months of the year was up 21.7%. Santiago's airport was also having a good year with the start of its Santiago-Panama-Santiago new flight, for 10.48% more traffic.
Most tourists come from North America
North America continues to be the main source market for tourists headed to the Dominican Republic. Central Bank statistics show that 51.95% of all tourists were either from the United States or Canada. Traffic from North America during the first seven months of the year was up 66,000 foreign travelers, compared to the first seven months in 2005.
Of the total foreign tourists, 39.46% came from Europe. Of these, most were from France, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, and Italy.
94.25% of foreign non-resident arrivals polled said they had come for a vacation.
Of the visitors, 61% were 21-49 years old and 22% were 50 years or more. Approximately 17% of travelers were youths, and the study showed that 9.63% of tourists were 13-20 years old, and 7% were babies to 12 year old children. The statistics confirm that travel to the DR is predominantly a couples and families destination, as the sexes are almost equally represented. While 50.86% of arrivals were males, it is important to point out that the foreign arrival total includes those who come for business. There are traditionally more male travelers than female travelers.
The changing Dominican tourism
The president-elect of the National Hotel & Restaurant Association, Luis Lopez, during an interview with Huchi Lora on Channel 11 commented on the changes in the Dominican hospitality industry. He commented that there is a trend to upgrade the hotel room inventory to attract travelers with a higher purchasing power. He said the challenges ahead are to provide more golf courses, more professional hotel services and more efficient public services as part of what he calls the transforming of the Dominican tourism industry. He said this has resulted in each new hotel trying to surpass in quality services what the other has offered. He said that the country is moving towards offering more and more vacation home projects, attracting those who seek marina and golf course services. He commented that every year new golf, marina or luxury hotel constructions are begun. He forecast that Samana would become the new prime destination in the Caribbean with the opening of the El Catey airport that will be ready by November. He said already, 15 international flights have been secured for the airport. He says this airport will service vacation sites from Cabo Frances Viejo in Maria Trinidad Sanchez province to the west on to Samana on the eastern side of the north coast.

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