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July 31, 2012
  • Basilica Museum now open in Higuey
  • General Luperon museum in Puerto Plata
  • Largest cigar store to open in La Romana
  • Dominican Republic could pass 5 million tourist mark by year's end
Basilica Museum now open in Higuey
Visitors to Punta Cana and La Romana have a new reason to stop by the Basilica La Altagracia, the largest church in the Dominican Republic. A new museum on the premises of the church showcases valuable donations made by Virgin Mary believes in religious art, wax, wood and jewelry.
The museum will be around half an hour away from most Punta Cana hotels and easily accessible once the new Coral Highway goes into operation this summer.
The museum has six exhibition halls, an auditorium, an audiovisual hall, a laboratory and a mirador overlooking the Basilica. Among the exhibits is one of 16 medallions in oval format tell about life in the times of the Spanish colony.
Dominican museum specialist Margarita Gonzalez worked closely with Argentinean museum specialist Sergio Barbieri to prepare the exhibits.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Tickets are RD$200 adults, and children RD$50.
Monsignor Nicanor Pena Rodriguez, Bishop of Higuey, says the museum is a collection of testimony of the Catholic history and artistical-cultural expressions of the Dominican people in their devotion to the Virgin Mary. "It is not a warehouse for innate objects, but rather a greenhouse that transmits throughout time the genius and spirituality of the community of believers," he said during the inaugural last week with the attendance of President Leonel Fernandez.
The museum was funded 70% by the Dominican government and 30% by the private sector and the Catholic Church. The museum is located on the grounds of the Basilica and cost RD$200 million.
General Luperon museum in Puerto Plata
The museum is already getting good reviews, after its inaugural by President Leonel Fernandez in June 2012. The Casa Museo General Gregorio Luperon was built to commemorate the General Gregorio Luperon (1839-1897), the army general and politician who is recognized for his role in restoring Dominican independence after the annexation to Spain in 1863. The annexation occurred after Dominican leaders feared Haitian leaders would again dominate the country. The invading Haitian government had been expelled during the 1844 independence war. The museum is located where Luperon last lived in a Victorian-style house located on Calle 12 de Julio almost corner Padre Castellanos in downtown Puerto Plata.
Construction works were entrusted to engineer Huberto Perez and architect Sarah Garcia and museum expert Margarita Gonzalez was the curator for the exhibits. The museum cost of RD$80 million was funded by the government.
On exhibit are the boots and cap of General Luperon, his furniture, books, and even his legendary sword. He was provisional President of the Republic from 1879-1880. He also is remembered for his support to General Maximo Gomez who fought the Cuban independence war.
The Puerto Plata International Airport is named for him.
Largest cigar store to open in La Romana
Located at La Estancia, midway between the entry to Bayahibe and La Romana city, Cigar Country Tours is opening what will be the largest cigar store in the world on 1 September. The store that will sell fine Dominican cigars will be part of the Flor Dominicana Cigar Factory complex, a model factory built on 1,000 square meters where visitors can watch La Flor Dominicana brand cigars being made. A museum will also be part of the new attraction in La Romana. The cigar factory expects to attract thousands of tourists that can commute from Punta Cana once the Coral Highway goes into operation later this summer. For more information, write to Geudy Vargas at [email protected]
Dominican Republic could pass 5 million tourist mark by year's end
The Central Bank reports that 174,481 more visitors have come this year, compared to the January-June 2011 period. This is a 7.66% increase. For the first half of the year, 2,453,772 non-resident visitors arrived by air. The Central Bank says if the trend is maintained, the Dominican Republic could pass the 5-million tourist mark by the end of the year.
Total arrivals, including Dominican residents was 2,679,109 passengers, up 7.36% compared to last year. There were 183,711 more travelers using Dominican airports.
Countries sending more tourists this half-year to the Dominican Republic compared to last year were United States (99,011), Russia (26,661), Canada (21,679), Venezuela (8,394), Argentina (8,038), Brazil (7,695), France (7,515), Peru (4,407), Chile (4,218), and Colombia (3,729). Travel from other countries in Europe declined.
Punta Cana International Airport continues to be the main terminal for arrival of tourists to the Dominican Republic. Arrivals for the January-June 2012 period were 1,332,535 for 61.8% of total tourist arrivals.
Las Americas International Airport (Santo Domingo) followed with 411,551 arrivals; then Puerto Plata (218,103 arrivals); Cibao (Santiago) with 80,971; La Romana with 67,028; El Catey (Samana) with 37,763, and La Isabela (Santo Domingo) 7,224.
The Central Bank says that 64% of all visiting tourists are 21-49 years old and 50.62% are men. 90.32% of those that visited stayed at hotels, and 94% came for leisure.

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