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April 30, 2013
  • 2012: an exceptional year for Dominican tourism
  • Excellent highways make DR multi-destination
  • Focus on Puerto Plata
  • Tourism retakes issue of Dominican convention center
2012: an exceptional year for Dominican tourism
Speaking at DATE Punta Cana 2013, Deputy Tourism Minister Radhames Martinez announced that last year was an exceptional year for Dominican tourism. He said that the 5.95% increase in visits by non-resident Dominicans and foreigners showed that both the public and private sectors had done their job. The DR received 4.6 million visitors last year.
He attributed the increase to the difficulties in the US economy, which have made closer travel destinations more popular and the increasing popularity of the Dominican Republic with Russian tourists, as well as to improvements in the destination and promotional efforts.
He said that Russia is now the fourth largest source market of tourists, overtaking Germany. The United States, Canada and France are the three main markets for Dominican tourism.
Martinez said that economic woes in many source countries have led to increased unemployment and travelers are increasingly seeking out the best price-value propositions for travel. He added that the Dominican Republic had benefited when US travelers sought closer destinations. This explains in part the 14% increase in travel from the US. He added that funds had been assigned to promotion and that the Ministry maintains very close ties with airlines and tour operators.
He said the government would continue to work on improving infrastructure, enhancing promotion, introducing new products, and would work closely with the private sector to foster continued growth. He announced that in 2013 promotions would be targeted at segmented markets, including weddings and honeymoon, family, sports, gastronomy and baby boomers. New promotional campaigns would be launched in two or three months, said Martinez.
Martinez announced that in the first year of the Danilo Medina administration, the Ministry of Tourism has been allocated the largest budget in its history - RD$5.4 billion, which includes US$70 million for promotion. He said the support is to back President Medina's announced target for reaching 10 million tourists in the next 10 years. "It's worth the effort," said Martinez.
Excellent highways make DR multi-destination
During a press conference at DATE Punta Cana last week, Deputy Tourism Minister Radhames Martinez highlighted the impact that the completion of key roadways is having on tourism in the Dominican Republic. He announced that with the completion of the expansion of the Av. Estados Unidos that runs north-south in the Punta Cana area the Coral Highway would be completed by December, providing for fast connections from resorts in Arena Gorda and Uvero Alto to the Punta Cana airport, and considerably reducing driving time.
Martinez stressed that the first-rate roadways that will soon link San Pedro de Macoris (Juan Dolio) with the east, with the completion of the San Pedro de Macoris and La Romana roundabouts. He announced that driving times from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo would be reduced to two hours, down from four hours just a year ago.
The completion of the highway opens up travel to Santo Domingo and key attractions in San Pedro de Macoris and La Romana, both for tourists staying in Punta Cana as well as in Santo Domingo, Juan Dolio or La Romana destinations.
Likewise, works are advancing on the completion of the Uvero Alto-Miches-Sabana de la Mar two-lane road with more than 100km at a cost of US$185 million. This puts Samana a half an hour boat trip away.
Martinez believes that the redistribution of tourism due to the proximity of airports now linked by new roads will open the way for more airlines to fly to the Dominican Republic in the medium term. He highlighted the fact that many tourists would be able to fly into one airport, and depart from another.
The Ministry of Tourism has also announced the start of reconstruction of the Puerto Plata-Navarrete highway that will put Puerto Plata 25 minutes from Santiago.
Speaking at DATE Punta Cana, Asonahores president Luis Emilio Rodriguez also stressed the impact the roads are having on multi-destinations within the country. He made the point that research shows tourists are spending US$101 up from US$100. "The fact that one more dollar is being spent means that the country being acknowledged as a multi-destination" he said.
He said that the investment in the new roads will mean domestic and foreign travelers will be able to travel inland and enjoy the country's attractions.
Asonahores said that the DR received more than US$4.3 billion in revenue in 2012. Foreign tourist visits were up 6% last year.
Focus on Puerto Plata
Deputy Tourism Minister Radhames Martinez announced that tourism promotion in 2013 would be specific to each area. He announced, for instance a focus on sports for Puerto Plata. The plan is to revitalize the tourism industry in Puerto Plata by sending a bill to Congress aimed at enhancing tourism incentives covering the entire province. The plan is to re-launch the destination in 2013 following the recommendations of a strategic marketing firm that is finalizing its plan.
Martinez said that a first flight carrying Russian tourists has begun arriving at the Puerto Plata international airport, and there are hopes for more flights. He said US$2.5 million has been set aside for re-launching Puerto Plata.
Tourism retakes issue of Dominican convention center
Deputy Tourism Minister Radhames Martinez said that a government task force is working on finding a solution to the convention segment for the city of Santo Domingo. "There is a task force, and a tender will be issued to reach a final decision for the construction of the convention center. "The private sector needs to understand this and must be willing to participate because governments should not handle convention and fair grounds," he said. He said the government would build the center, but the private sector would be the operator. He announced that the government plans to issue a decree creating the commission that will study all the documentation. In the past, the Ministry of Tourism had hired Messe Berlin (operator of the ITB travel fair) to carry out the study and their recommendations are again being considered. He said that Sans Souci Group has also proposed the construction of a convention center in eastern Santo Domingo. "The center will be completed before the end of this administration," he announced.

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