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September 29, 2009
  • Go beyond the beach
  • Thumbs up for the French market
  • Cruise ship boom
  • New tourism office in Scandinavia
Go beyond the beach
CNN reporter Matt Tettelbach recently visited Punta Cana and acknowledged the attractions of beach resort relaxation. However, he also encourages tourists to take the US$9 4-hour Expreso Bavaro bus into Santo Domingo. "If you never leave the high walls of your tourist compound, you're missing out on a gem of a capital city," he writes. "So when you begin to tire of the antics of the 'animation team' at the resort, and the color of your skin starts to resemble the papaya or watermelon you're eating, consider a short trip to Santo Domingo."
Although Tettelbach says it is possible to see it all in one day, he recommends an overnight stay. He advises visitors to hit the Colonial City and do the round tour from the Parque Colon, up Las Damas Street and down Calle Hostos and on to Calle El Conde for shopping, and to Plaza Espana for meals. In keeping with the authenticity of the whole trip, he also encourages travelers to find out who is serving the traditional Dominican lunchtime meal known as "la bandera dominicana" and to check out the stews, fried plantains, cassava (yuca) and delicious tropical fruits.
"And if you still feel like dancing the night away, hop in a taxi to the Malecon, Santo Domingo's seafront boulevard, where the large hotels have popular dance clubs pumping merengue until the wee hours of the morning," he observes.
Thumbs up for the French market
During the DR's participation at the French Travel Market in Paris (IFTM/Top Resa 2009) last week, Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia announced that demand for Dominican vacations is up in France and that tour operators and travel agents have motivated airlines to increase weekly direct flights to the DR from 20 to 26 for this coming winter season. The Minister said that while XL Airways will maintain its weekly flight to the DR, Air France would be increasing its weekly flights from 5 to 9 this winter. Corsair will also increase flight frequency from one to 3 a week.
At present, XL Airways has 14 weekly flights, Air France has 5 and Corsair, one.
Javier Garcia stressed that France is the third largest travel market for the DR, only surpassed by the United States and Canada, with 8% of international arrivals. He added that the 3 tour operators that manage 70% of all French outbound travel offer very creative packages to the DR.
During the trade show, he also announced the start of a promotional campaign with spots in 415 movie theaters in Paris. "Our strategy is to continue strengthening our agreements with tour operators and travel agents, but now we also aim to reach the consumer directly. We want to stir an interest in our country among those who have not been there," he said.
Cruise ship boom
"We are talking about a boom in cruise ship visits," said Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia, speaking at the IFTM/Top Resa 2009 event in Paris. He said numbers show that cruise ship arrivals are up 24%, despite the general lull in travel.
He said that cruise ship arrivals to the DR have been increasing in the past two years. From 375,000 cruise arrivals in 2007, some 505,000 visitors arrived in 2008, and a greater number is expected by year-end 2009. The Minister predicted that this growth was set to continue, adding that the leading Caribbean cruise ship conference is booked for Santo Domingo in October 2010. The main players in the cruise industry will be visiting the city for The 17th Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (F-CCA) Conference & Trade Show from 25-29 October.
DR has three main cruise ship ports: Casa de Campo in La Romana, Samana and the Port of Sans Souci in Santo Domingo with its Don Diego and Sans Souci terminals.
New tourism office in Scandinavia
Ivonne Cocco Jimenez, previously on the staff of the Tourism Promotion Offices in Germany and Belgium will be in charge of opening the new Ministry of Tourism information office in Stockholm. The office will support promotion initiatives in the emerging Scandinavian market, covering Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The DR seeks to stimulate increased travel from these affluent markets.
Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia announced the start of a weekly direct flight from Stockholm to Samana, using tour operator Fritidsresor (TUI Nordic) and a bi-weekly flight from Stockholm to Puerto Plata with tour operator Ving (Thomas Cook).
Furthermore the Swedish TV program Expedition: Robinson, which went on to become the famous Survivor reality show, is being filmed in the DR, spreading the word about travel to the DR to the Swedish public.
The Stockholm tourism office is located at Kungsgatan 37, 111 56 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel 46-8-120-205-37. The email is [email protected]

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