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July 9, 2013
  • AquaWorld opens at Sambil
  • Dominican Fiesta goes solar
  • Samana stakeholders unite
  • Hassle-free cruising key to success
  • New entry, garbage dump and events center for Samana
AquaWorld opens at Sambil
Aquamundo at Santo Domingo's Sambil Mall opens to the general public on Wednesday, 10 July. The new aquarium features colorful and out of the ordinary fishes, turtles, eels, stingrays and sharks from seas and oceans all over the world. A US$4 million investment, it is said to include 1,500 species from all around the world. The center also has a collection of over 2,500 fish and marine creatures. The aquarium even has a sea tunnel with 15 live sharks.
Guides accompany the visitors and provide explanations about the fish, where they come from, and their particular characteristics. There is a tank with lionfish, one with live corals, and a touch area where children can pet the stingrays. The tour includes crossing through a submarine, where children can touch the controls.
Opening hours are 10am to 9pm and the cost is RD$500 for adults and RD$350 for children.
The aquarium was custom built by International Concept Management (ICM), which also built the Sambil archway tank with over 500 fish that has been on site since the opening of the mall in November 2012.
Dominican Fiesta goes solar
Last week the Dominican Fiesta Hotel inaugurated the operation of the largest solar powered installation at any hotel in the Dominican Republic. 1,088 solar panels with installed capacity for 266.56 kWp will generate some 390 kWh of energy all year round. National Energy Commission president Enrique Ramirez said that on weekends, when power consumption at the city hotel declines, the surplus will be available for the national grid.
The installation was carried out by Sofos Dominicana.
Samana stakeholders unite
With a call for unity and organization, Rafael Blanco Tejera, president of the Samana Tourism Cluster, opened the First Annual Meeting for the Touristic Development of Samana on Tuesday, 25 June. At the conference organized by the Tourism Cluster of Samana and the Ministry of Tourism, business and government representatives set out their agenda for provincial tourism development and stakeholders met to discuss marketing strategies.
Speaking during the opening of the conference, Alexandria Panehal, director of USAID, one of the event sponsors, called for including senior citizens and people with special needs in tourism development programs, adding that there needed to be a greater trickle-down effect from the tourism industry to the community.
Michael Ronan, vice president for governmental relations for Royal Caribbean International, stressed the importance of improving the shopping experience and making Samana hassle-free for the independent tourist.
Artemio Santos Santos, director of the Quintana Roo office, stressed the importance of involving the local people and the environment for sustainable tourism development. He presented the case of how hurricanes were turned into positives by communicating that tourists would be getting a renovated product with the cleanup. Santos said that the airport is a key partner in tourism, as this is the first and last experience the tourist will have at the destination.
Hassle-free cruising key to success
Royal Caribbean's Michael Ronan is challenging the people of Samana to organize, saying that successful cruise port towns guarantee an organized environment, where people can move around at their leisure, free from being hassled by vendors. Also essential is good information, adequate and easy to take ground transportation, and a variety of things to do at the destination. He said that other ports such as St. Maarten have had a successful operation, even when they operate with tenders and without a mainland dock.
Ronan urged Samana to improve on the products it has available for sale to the tourists. He said that cruise ship passengers like to spend. "If tourists don't find anything to buy, then they will spend less time at the destination and return to the boat," he said.
Ronan made the point that the megaship Quantum of the Seas of Royal Caribbean's scheduled stop is a major commitment for the destination and Royal Caribbean cruise line. He said that cruise line's best clients usually book the inaugural cruise and there is much press that follows the maiden voyage, from which the Dominican Republic could benefit. "It all depends on whether we can ensure that the passenger enjoys the stop, has a successful buying experience, reports that Samana was the surprise of the trip and becomes a promoter," he said, challenging the destination to put its best foot forward.
New entry, garbage dump and events center for Samana
Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia urged stakeholders in Samana to continue to work closely with the government, creating local synergies. He called on local leadership to define their priorities in social responsibility, infrastructure and promotion. Javier Garcia announced that the Ministry has the funds for the construction of an adequate entrance to the province. At present, visitors to Samana need to pass through urban chaos. The Minister said that the funds would provide for relocating the people who live in the entrance to the touristic city. He also announced the Ministry had funds for constructing a new garbage dump to serve the city.
Moreover, he announced that funds were available for building an events center for the celebration of cultural and artistic events all year round. The location is yet to be determined. Javier Garcia also highlighted the importance of organization. "Tourists do not like chaos," he stressed. He called for social commitment and said that people are struck by the way Samana can have so much beauty and poverty at the same time. He announced that funds would also be made available to paint the characteristic wooden houses of Samana.

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