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May 1, 2007
  • DR becoming popular cruise destination
  • Punta Cana expects two million
  • Copa to fly to Punta Cana 15 July
  • Mexican Gastronomy for BTC show
DR becoming popular cruise destination
About 500,000 cruise ship passengers will have come to the DR during the last two cruise seasons, as reported in Hoy. Santo Domingo stands to gain the most, with the Sans Souci Port becoming a mother port for major cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean. As from December 2007, Santo Domingo will be RCL's 2,500-passenger Legend of the Seas homeport. After arriving at Santo Domingo and touring the first city in the New World, passengers can then tour several other points in the Caribbean. Samana and La Romana are two other new attractive cruise ports of call.
Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Opera, Costa Cruise Line and Aida Cruise Line ships are also making regular calls at Dominican ports.
Deputy Tourism Minister Magaly Toribio said that during the October 2006 to April 2007 season, 235,000 cruise passengers visited the DR with 40,000 docking at the new Sans Souci port in Santo Domingo, 155,000 in La Romana and 60,000 in Samana. Toribio forecast an increase in arrivals for the season that starts this November 2007. Toribio said that maritime tourism complements air arrivals. Approximately four million tourists visit the country every year. She explained that the goal is to increase maritime arrivals to a million passengers in the next three years. Toribio says that Santo Domingo's historic heritage makes it an especially attractive port for visitors. She said the challenge is to extend the time tourists stay in their port of entry prior to taking the cruise or upon returning. She said tourists may also be offered the option of visiting Santo Domingo, staying at a resort in Punta Cana and Puerto Plata and then taking the cruise.
Toribio added that maritime tourism distributes income because tourists shop in local stores and visit restaurants. She estimated that boat tourists spend about US$103 in purchases during their stay. She explained that there are two types of cruise ship passengers: one who visits a port, takes a brief excursion and returns to the ship, and the tourist who arrives at a mother port, usually at least two days in advance and may stay a few days afterwards to get to know the city and the country. "It's what we do when we take a cruise ship in Miami," she explained.
Punta Cana expects two million
The Punta Cana tourist area has become the top destination, not only for the Dominican Republic but for the Caribbean as a whole, and this year the airport is expecting to serve two million passengers. Ernesto Veloz, the president of the local hoteliers association, said that the area currently offers seven golf courses and another three are due to open this year. Veloz stressed that in 2008 there will be 10 courses open to visitors and in 2009 there will be 13 courses. The region now offers 24,703 rooms in 49 hotels, and another 2,900 rooms are under construction.
Copa to fly to Punta Cana 15 July
Copa will be landing at Punta Cana International Airport, bringing Central and South American tourists to the east coast beach strip this summer. Copa Airlines of Panama has a 15 July start date for the new service. Copa also serves Las Americas International Airport (Santo Domingo) and Cibao International Airport (Santiago).
The twice-weekly Panama-Punta Cana flight will depart Panama at 9:55am, arriving at Punta Cana at 1:36pm. The Boeing 737NG will depart Punta Cana to Panama at 5:35pm, arriving in Panama at 7:24pm.
Copa Airlines currently offers approximately 110 daily scheduled flights to 36 destinations in 21 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. In addition, Copa Airlines provides passengers with access to flights to more than 120 other international destinations through code-share agreements with Continental Airlines and other airlines.
Mexican Gastronomy for BTC show
The 11th Annual Caribbean Tourism Bourse (BTC 2007) will take place this coming 10-12 May at the Renaissance Jaragua Hotel & Casino, this year featuring a scuba diving exhibition, real estate exhibitions, and a Mexican Gastronomy Festival, complete with a tequila-tasting workshop. Luis Felipe Aquino, president of BTC, said that the State of Jalisco, Mexico is sending a delegation to the festival. Aquino said that this year will focus on intra-regional and multi-destination tourism, as well as real estate investments in the DR. Exhibitors from Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela will be taking part.

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