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May 12, 2009
  • Push for full potential of SDQ
  • City government accepts challenges
  • SD Cluster calls for moral and financial support
  • Jose Oviedo pitches CAC 2010
Push for full potential of SDQ
Victor Pizarro, an international consultant on destination management, has called on the business sector to unite to propel Santo Domingo to achieve its full potential as a tourist destination. He also called for the need for politicians to have the vision and leadership capacity to achieve this. Speaking at a presentation on the Future of Santo Domingo presented by the Santo Domingo Tourism Cluster, he made the point that tourism promotion is not the key to the successful positioning of a city as a tourist destination. He said that the main thing is to have a relevant promise, proactive businesspeople and politicians with vision.
In his opinion, Santo Domingo is weak in the promise it offers visitors. He said the city needed to be given a clearer identity, to organize what it offers, and that this would be achieved through efforts by proactive businesspeople and politicians with vision.
Pizarro suggested that the Santo Domingo Tourism Cluster should evolve into the city's Visitors & Convention Bureau, a mixed government and private organization, where decisions would be centralized.
Pizarro said there is a need for more statistics on the city itself, information that he said is needed for investors to make decisions about investment, marketing and even management of the destination.
In his opinion, Santo Domingo could take greater advantage of its strengths as a cultural destination. He pointed out that there are 8.8 million people in the US who study culture-related careers, who could visit the city.
"This is a time to empower the tourist," he said, commenting on the reader-driven forums on the Internet that provide guidance to future visitors.
"Santo Domingo is the most complete representation of the Dominican Republic," he said, encouraging government and businesspeople to work together.
City government accepts challenges
City administrator Domingo Contreras, speaking at the Future of Santo Domingo presentation at the Ministry of Foreign Relations last week, outlined what he described as the challenges for Santo Domingo. He said they have a long-term vision, but the challenge is for the annual budget to be in tune with the long-term vision. He said the Santo Domingo city government seeks to make Santo Domingo "a sustainable, walkable and cultural city". He announced that progress had been made with the completion of the Plaza Juan Baron with the support of the Sans Souci group that is renovating the port of Santo Domingo, to be followed by the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Park, and the 1.5 kms of 10-meter wide sidewalk that will run from the Obelisk to Maximo Gomez Avenue.
He also mentioned that renovations of produce markets were a priority for the city government. He said that in most cities, the market is a tourist attraction.
Contreras announced that the city government would soon be submitting a City Land Use Plan for approval. He stressed that this was urgent. "A city is more attractive to tourists when it is more livable," he said. He said the land use plan would focus on alleviating traffic jams, getting urban development under control and green areas.
SD Cluster calls for moral and financial support
Luis Marino Lopez, coordinator of the Santo Domingo Tourism Cluster, used the opportunity to urge attendees to play an active part in the re-launching of the city. He stressed that the completion of the Malecon project and the underground installation of electricity cabling in the Colonial City are urgent projects that need to be implemented by government. Lopez explained that the Cluster is working to make the Greater Santo Domingo (including the East, West, North and South municipalities) into a competitive and sustainable tourism destination. "For this we need moral, participative and financial support." He added that Santo Domingo has it all, we just need to offer it, package it better and serve it better in order to translate words into to action.
Jose Oviedo pitches CAC 2010
Jose Oviedo, cultural coordinator for the Santo Domingo American Capital of Culture 2010 said that the event would establish the city as "the greatest city in the Caribbean and Central America." He said the city is outstanding in what it offers in culture, gastronomy and leisure. "This is about coordinating and redirecting effective and concerted processes," he said. Oviedo spoke of the city's enviable cosmopolitan atmosphere, the interlacing of national and international elements, its many public and natural spaces, its history and architecture, and the multiplicity of cultural events on offer.
In his view, Santo Domingo provides a great opportunity to go beyond the natural beach-based positioning of the DR, to "focus on identity and cultural diversity." He said this enables building greater value in the offer.
He gave a preview of what would be happening in 2010. Four leading fine artists will be decorating 30 public buses. Planned events include new drama-visiting circuit, and another circuit for discovering the city's diverse gastronomy, to be presented by local chefs. He said that the planned events would be attractive to both locals and tourists.

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