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June 16, 2009
  • No crisis in tourism sector, says Minister
  • Javier Garcia on Cabarete
  • JetBlue non-stop to Fort Lauderdale
  • JetBlue's Boston new nonstop flight
  • Domestic travelers, visitors & expats
  • 13th BTC 2009
No crisis in tourism sector, says Minister
Speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week, Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia stated that he did not believe that the present financial crisis would halt tourism investments in the DR. He expected that a large percentage of the US$16 billion in new investment projects the Ministry has approved would materialize.
On the contrary, he said that the DR had benefited from the crisis. "If there had not been a crisis then the price of a barrel of oil would have escalated to US$300-350, and then countries like the DR would have collapsed," he told the audience of businesspeople. He forecast that petroleum would cost US$85-90 a barrel by the end of the year.
"Tourism in the DR is not in crisis", he said. He pointed out that there have been no banking collapses in the DR as a result of the crisis. "Many say that among other things it is due to the mega-regulation that was put into place at a time others were deregulating," he said.
Javier Garcia believes that the tourism industry is the most resistant of all industries, maintaining a track record of growth since its launch in 1950.
He feels there is enough tourism to go around, and there is no need to compete with other Caribbean countries.
He announced that the Ministry is reaching non-traditional agreements with leading tour operators based instead on yield for the 2009-2010 season.
He added that the DR's tourist offices abroad are diversifying with the aim of promoting investments as well as travel.
"It is not difficult to sell the DR. All we have to make sure is that the investor visits," he said.
During his presentation, he announced the start of flights of Air Dominicana, a joint venture between the Dominican government and Air Europa of Spain.
Furthermore, he stressed that the country would be heavily promoting its golf projects, reaching out to the estimated 29 million golfers in the US, and 6 million Canadian golfers.
At the same time, he said his ministry would be implementing a campaign to encourage Dominicans to get to know their own country and reiterated the importance of joint government and private sector initiatives.
Javier Garcia on Cabarete
Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia addressed the controversial question of whether the Ministry would authorize high-rise buildings in Cabarete during his presentation at the Am Cham luncheon. A law in place restricts constructions to three floors. The wind sports community opposes high rise constructions on the grounds that they would destroy precisely what has made Cabarete an attractive destination.
"Remember that all actions that are developed in a tourism zone are harmonized," said Javier Garcia. He said that several meetings have been held with the Ministry's Projects and Planning Department.
"There is sort of a general consensus on the things that can be done because the laws are there," he said. "When taking corrections, we will not affect investments that have already been made," he said.
He said studies have been carried out to determine the number of floors that can be authorized. "Some major projects have not been approved because they affect the winds in Cabarete," he told the audience.
"In Cabarete what has to be protected will be protected, and we will make decisions based on technical considerations," he said.
JetBlue non-stop to Fort Lauderdale
JetBlue Airways announces the start of its non-stop flights Santo Domingo's Las Americas International Airport from Fort Lauderdale International (FLL) on Thursday, 18 June. From FLL, the airline already offers non-stop flights to 18 destinations. To kick the flight off, the airline is offering promotional fares. The Fort Lauderdale flight schedule is for a 9am departure from SDQ arriving to FLL at 11:14am. The return is departing 12:45pm from Las Americas International Airport, arriving 2:53pm.
"JetBlue is proud to expand on our success in Fort Lauderdale with new service to Mexico and the Dominican Republic," said Scott Laurence, JetBlue's vice president of network planning.
"Customers have come to prefer JetBlue for our in-flight entertainment, generous name-brand snacks, and award-winning customer service - all for one low price. We invite you to experience our low fares and lots of frills on our newest service between Fort Lauderdale and the Caribbean."
JetBlue will operate its Santo Domingo service with 150-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.
JetBlue's Boston new nonstop flight
JetBlue Airways launches its direct Boston-Santo Domingo flight this coming Saturday, 19 June. JetBlue is the airline with the greatest number of non-stop destinations from Logan International Airport. JetBlue will initially offer non-stop flights between Boston and the Dominican capital three days per week (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) with plans to expand to daily service over the peak winter season. This new non-stop link complements JetBlue's existing connecting service available daily between Boston and the Dominican cities of Puerto Plata, Santiago and Santo Domingo.
JetBlue's schedule to Santo Domingo is Boston (BOS) to Las Americas International (SDQ) departing at 12:30pm, arriving at 4:28pm. The return flight departs SDQ at 5:30pm and arrives to BOS at 9:30pm.
"Aerodom is very pleased with JetBlue's decision to offer scheduled low cost air service between Boston and Santo Domingo," said Rodolfo Salgado, CEO of Aerodom, the operator of the Santo Domingo airport.
"Boston is a major US market with a significant and growing Dominican population and a steadily increasing number of tourists from Boston and surrounding area booking vacations in the Dominican Republic. We are confident that, as a result of this new route, tourism and commercial ties between these two vibrant cities will be strengthened, making this very good news indeed for the Dominican Republic."
JetBlue will operate its new Boston - Santo Domingo service aboard 150-seat Airbus A320 jets.
Domestic travelers, visitors & expats
Tourism consultant Victor Pizarro is recommending that the city of Santo Domingo should focus on domestic tourism, tourists who will already be visiting and expatriate Dominicans as part of its efforts to increase the number of people visiting to the capital on the occasion of the celebration of the American Capital of Culture in 2010.
Pizarro, who is country manager for Bluefreeway and is consulting for the Santo Domingo Tourism Cluster, says that those groups can generate 65% of the numbers for an increase in visitor numbers in that important year. "We need to prepare the event for the people who are here," said Pizarro.
The 2010 initiative could serve as a dress rehearsal for the permanent launch of the city as a cultural destination. Pizarro says that today, while the city has the elements for making it a major international cultural destination, there is still a long way to go to achieve this positioning in the minds of travelers.
Pizarro emphasized that it is the only historical city where you can walk for two minutes and come across a museum. "Square meter by square meter, Santo Domingo has the largest number of museums in the region," he said. He compared the DR to two other destinations that are favorably positioned as cultural centers - Cartagena, Colombia and Port of Spain, Trinidad. But he added that they contrary to Santo Domingo, these two cities have been effective in making the most of their assets.
During a presentation last week at the PUCMM University, Pizarro encouraged the city to come up with a Marketing Plan to connect the offer with the demand and to ensure that the city achieves its goal of promoting its cultural assets.
Pizarro feels that the time is ripe to reach out to tour operators and hotel chains operating in the DR to make sure that special excursions to Santo Domingo are included in the packages for 2010.
For a copy of the presentation, write to [email protected]
13th BTC 2009
The 13th Caribbean Travel Bourse (BTC 2009) will be held on 2-4 July 2009 at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel & Casino. The BTC is a trade show and marketplace where professionals meet and do business. Features of this year's event include participation of travel agents and tour operators from the world over, including buyers from emerging markets in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. On the program is a workshop, business round table, meeting planning sessions and business center. The III Americas Real Estate Expo (AREEXPO 2009) will take place, with opportunities for real estate sales. This year, there will also be a focus on ecotourism and cultural tourism. Conferences, workshops and an Arts & Crafts exhibition are also scheduled.
For more information, see www.btc.com.do

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