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May 21, 2013
  • AirTran flies to Punta Cana
  • Construction starts at Puerto Plata cruise ship terminal
  • Monkeyland now in Punta Cana
  • Brazilian tourism up
AirTran flies to Punta Cana
AirTran, the wholly owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines, operated its first direct flight from Midway Airport I Chicago to Punta Cana on Sunday, 19 May. The airline has four weekly frequencies, on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Magaly Toribio, marketing advisor to the Ministry of Tourism, and Patricia Perez, director of the Dominican Tourism Office in Chicago said that the new flight opened up opportunities for tourists to fly in from other areas in the United States.
AirTran Airways has close to 600 flights a day to 54 destinations. Southwest operates more than 3,100 flights a day and serves communities around 78 airports in the US.
Construction starts at Puerto Plata cruise ship terminal
Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia expects the Puerto Plata cruise ship terminal to be completed by December 2014. Work is already underway at the site located in Maimon. Carnival Corporation is building the terminal, a US$85 million investment. Other cruise lines will be able to dock their ships there. Minister Garcia says it will have the capacity to receive at least 4,000 passengers and 1,000 crew at the same time. He said that while the symbolic ground breaking ceremony was held some time ago, the physical work has only just begun.
Monkeyland now in Punta Cana
One of the newest excursions in Punta Cana is the Monkeyland outing. Tourists choosing this Bavaro Runners excursion are taken to a close encounter with small squirrel monkeys on a farm in the Anamuya mountains. The monkeys are originally from Guyana and Suriname and now move freely among the trees in their new habitat.
The tour starts with a walk through the botanical gardens with its many medicinal plants, to learn about the native plants and flowers of the Dominican Republic. Monkey mama, Gwen Smith has trained them to feel comfortable with children and adults. Visitors will experience guided interactions with the 15 monkeys that live on the monkey farm, including several that are pregnant. There are opportunities for photos with the monkeys and the green countryside. Total time in the park is around two hours. This is a half-day excursion including the guided transfer with pickups from 52 hotels in the Punta Cana area.
It is a guided and educational tour, suitable for all ages. There is also a gift shop.
"Kids love it, and if children are scared we work with them so they become animal lovers," says trainer Gwen Smith.
Brazilian tourism up
Brazilian ambassador in the DR Jose Macus Vinicius de Sousa has told Preferente magazine that in the past five years travel from Brazil to the Dominican Republic has increased more than tenfold, up from 7,000 to 80,000 visitors.
He said the improving purchasing power of families in Brazil has made all the difference. He also attributed the growth in Brazilian tourist numbers to the increase availability of charter and direct flights from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to the DR.
Brazilian airline Gol is increasing its flights from Brazil to the Dominican Republic and is also offering connections for combined vacations with a beach resort vacation in the DR and the attractions of Disneyworld and other entertainment parks in Florida.

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