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February 3, 2009
  • DR takes SI Swimsuit Issue
  • DR in Sports Diving magazine
  • UK to penalize Caribbean tourism
  • Tourism award
  • Tourism growth through November
  • DR gets in WTTC awards shortlist
DR takes SI Swimsuit Issue
French tennis star Tatiana Golovin visited the Dominican Republic in December to take part in the shoot for the next Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which will be on the newsstands on 10 February. Golovin is on leave from the tennis circuit as she tries to recover and make a comeback.
She has told the press she is not retiring for now, as reported in zimbio.com
DR in Sports Diving magazine
The Dominican Republic is perceived as a big island with great choices for scuba diving enthusiasts. The official publication of the PADI Diving Society includes the DR in their January/February 2009 "100 Destinations of a Lifetime 2009" list. Covering the DR writer Ted Alan Stedman described how he was able to visit 23 dive sites in both the Caribbean and Atlantic in nine days, including wall dives, five wrecks and three underwater cave systems, two offshore islands, plus a national marine park, in addition to sprawling reefs "that could match anything I've ever seen throughout the Caribbean." It mentions that divers in the DR could spend years without a repeat of dives. It counts 437 wrecks that have been catalogued including 136 treasure ships and mentions that, "another DR eccentricity is its 'inland sea,' a limestone labyrinth with underwater caves and underground river passages yet to be explored."
The author highlights the variety in the country, saying that Juan Dolio alone is a dive-centric portal with more than 25 recreational dive sites within 15 minutes. Also mentioned is the National Park of the East marine park and he describes the waters of Catalina Island as "aquarium-like", with endangered manatees, bottle-nosed dolphins, turtles and nurse sharks.
Special mentions are also made of diving in Samana Bay and dives that can be especially wild January through March when an estimated 5,000 humpback whales come to breed in the area.
Also covered is cave diving, with a mention of Boca Chica's Cueva Taina.
UK to penalize Caribbean tourism
Lucy Huxley, editor of the UK's Travel Trade Gazette (TTG) is behind a Fair Fares campaign to stop the UK government from imposing new Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates that would increase the cost of travel to the Caribbean. The ADP system structure would mean that customers flying to the Caribbean would pay a higher rate than those flying to any point in the US. "And at 150 pounds a head in premium economy, it will mean an extra 600 pounds for a family of four going to the Dominican Republic after November 2010," she points out in an editorial in the 16 January edition. She makes the point that at times when cost-conscious consumers are looking to get the best-value holidays, the increased APD could put them off going to a particular destination altogether, prompting them to opt for somewhere in a cheaper (but not necessarily nearer) band instead. She says the proposed APD structure would penalize travelers and be "seriously damaging" for the Caribbean.
As reported in TTG, the Association of British Travel Agents is lobbying the government to get the system changed in this spring's Budget before the rules come into force in November. Andy Cooper of the ABTA says they have called for the system to be changed to three bands - 0-2,500 miles, 2,500-5,000 miles and 5,000 miles and above - and calculated purely on distance rather than by capital cities. The APD structure was conceived to push airlines to become environmentally friendly. Ricky Skerritt, tourism minister of St. Kitts complains that instead it will end up penalizing a region that is already one of the most environmentally friendly in the world.
To participate in the campaign against this measure, see www.ttglive.com/travelgivesback
Tourism award
The DR was named the best Caribbean destination by Travel Weekly's sixth annual Readers Choice Awards 2008. The award was presented to Deputy Tourism Minister Fausto Fernandez at a formal ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in December. Fernandez was accompanied by Deputy Minister Magaly Toribio and the director of the DR's Tourism Promotion Office in NY, Lucien Echavarria. Listin Diario reports that Fernandez expressed the country's gratitude for the award and mentioned that more than one million Americans had visited the DR in 2008. According to Travel Weekly, the award winners, one for each of the 56 categories, represented the "best of the best of the travel industry."
Tourism growth through November
Through November, the Dominican Republic has posted less than a 1% growth rate for the year. According to the World Tourism Organization Barometer report, growth in the DR Jan-Nov was 0.7%, which falls below the 1% growth for the Caribbean sub-region as a whole, despite posting a 4.5% growth rate for the first half of the year. While enjoying a strong first half of the year, travel to the DR declined considerably in the second half of the year, after posting a 10% growth for the first two quarters. Travel began to decline in July (-3.6%), August (-2.0%), September (-10%), October (-11%) and November (-5.8%) showed declines coinciding with the heightening of the global financial crisis. WTO says its experts forecast that airline capacity cuts (as airlines have parked planes with high operational costs), fluctuating exchange rates and the weak US economy are the main reasons affecting travel stats to the Caribbean. South American and Central American destinations fared much better, indicating there is new competition for US travelers who have chosen not to travel to Europe.
In August 2008, the Fernandez administration appointed a new Minister of Tourism who has responded by doubling the advertising budget, launching a new campaign, The DR Has It All, and increasing the number of tourism offices in important source markets, to wade out the present crisis.
WTO says that the strongest source markets are Canada, Russian Federation, Norway, Ireland, India, Brazil, Malaysia, South Africa, the Ukraine, Hungary, Egypt and Bulgaria that recorded double-digit increases in local currencies in expenditure on tourism abroad through September 2008.
See www.bancentral.gov.do
DR gets in WTTC awards shortlist
The Puntacana Group has made the list of finalists for the 2009 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The finalists are selected by an international team of independent judges in each of four award categories for having successfully demonstrated sustainable tourism best practices, including the protection of natural and cultural heritage, social and economic benefits to local people, and environmentally-friendly operations.
The next phase of judging involves an on-site evaluation of each finalist to assess what they are doing in practice, leading up to the selection of one winner in each category.
The winners will be awarded during a special ceremony at the 9th Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Florianopolis, Brazil on 15 May 2009.
The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, now in their fifth year under WTTC's stewardship are aimed at recognizing best practice in sustainable tourism within the Travel & Tourism industry worldwide. The WTTC says that given the growing concern about natural and cultural resources, these awards are particularly important in that they provide them with the opportunity of promoting and partnering with the industry leaders in responsible tourism, highlighting the prime examples of best practice.

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