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February 25, 2014
  • Taleb Rifai visits for culture seminar, leaves a DR tourism convert
  • Air connectivity and visa facilitation a joint task for the Americas
  • Pro Cigar Festival gets better and better
  • Junior Davis Cup Tennis at Parque del Este Tennis Courts
  • Elton John Greatest Hits Concert
Taleb Rifai visits for culture seminar, leaves a DR tourism convert
During his closing remarks for the World Tourism Organization-sponsored Seminar on Tourism Destinations Management of Cultural Heritage Sites held in Santo Domingo on 17-18 February, the secretary general of the World Tourism Organization spoke as a convert to Dominican hospitality.
"It's been an absolute pleasure, absolute pleasure... We felt part of this country, part of the new spirit of this country, you made us all feel Dominicans, thank you all!" he said. Taleb Rifai spoke highly of the local commitment to tourism, reflected by President Danilo Medina participating in a meeting to discuss tourism as a tool for development in the country.
"I see the transformation this country has taken, the decision to move from the concept of sun and beach and integrated resorts to integrated development all together," said Rifai.
He predicted even better times ahead for the Dominican tourism industry with the turn to programs that highlighted culture. "We have seen yesterday and today the determination to turn the success story the DR already has into another level of success," he said. "I am sure that three to five years from now we will come to the number one cultural destination in the world," he said. "And we will be able to say we were here when it first happened," he said, referring to what he described as "going from resorts to total development."
"Yesterday we saw a new face of this country, of the people, a face that always existed but we had not seen it and came to experience it first-hand," he stated.
"We will be your best ambassador all over the world," he promised.
Air connectivity and visa facilitation a joint task for the Americas
Visiting Ministers of Tourism and delegates from the Americas signed the Declaration of Santo Domingo on 18 February in which they committed to working towards improving regional air interconnectivity. The ministers met under the umbrella of the World Tourism Organization. As part of the statement, the ministers addressed the visa barriers to connectivity, acknowledged that better air connectivity means better opportunities to present the varied tourism attractions of the region, increase hard currency revenue for the country and create new jobs. The ministers also stressed that bilateral and multilateral cooperation are efficient mechanisms to work towards cutting visa red tape and improving connectivity.
In the conclusions of the meeting, they agreed to prioritize air connectivity in all World Tourism Organization states in the Americas with the governments committing to implement public-private alliances and agreements that stimulate and strengthen interconnectivity by air within the Americas. It was also agreed to work on joint air and tourism policies that address air connectivity, facilitating travel and taxation. The ministers confirmed their support for making the highest-ranking government officials aware of the importance of air connectivity. They committed to encouraging governments in the Americas to take the necessary steps to coordinate open skies at a regional level, visa facilitation and promote investments in airports. It was also agreed that governments would establish mechanisms to strengthen the ties between ministries of foreign relations and civil aviation. Participants also agreed to work together for the sustainability of cultural and historic heritage for the welfare and improvement of quality of life of the peoples of the region.
Pro Cigar Festival gets better and better
The Pro Cigar Festival has celebrated another successful event with cigar celebrations in La Romana, Santiago and Bonao. This year, cigar fans were able to enjoy visiting the farms and factories of famous Fuente, La Flor Dominicana and Tabacalera Alianza that have joined the event.
An estimated 300 visitors came for the event that takes cigar aficionados to visit plantations and cigar factories in the morning and then organizes gourmet diners with cigar smoking in the evening. This is the time to get to become an insider in the Dominican cigar world and enjoy some of the best smokes in the world. This is also a time when the local manufacturers launch special editions. Retailers from the US and Europe are taking part.
The group stayed at Casa de Campo, took a boat trip to Palmilla sand bar and Saona Island, a tour of the Tabacalera de Garcia Factory Tour (the largest in the world), before heading for Santiago where they stayed at the Hodelpa Gran Almirante Hotel. In Santiago, the group was offered tours to the tobacco fields and cigar factories of La Aurora, General Cigar, Davidoff, Matasa, Corporacion Cigar Export, La Flor Dominicana, and the Fuente Foundation.
There was a white dinner at the Monumento a los Heroes de la Restauracion in Santiago.
The group was also offered the options of going on the Cayo Arena Island Tour, playing golf at Las Aromas, a beach day at Casa Colonial in Playa Dorada, Puerto Plata, and a formal dinner at Centro Espanol in Santiago.
Junior Davis Cup Tennis at Parque del Este Tennis Courts
The Junior Davis Cup Tennis competition is being hosted by the Dominican Republic from February 24th to March 1st. The event, which features the best players in the region in the 13-16-age group, is a pre-qualifying tournament where the winning team earns a place alongside the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Final Qualifying round will take place in May. Approximately 16 countries are expected to take to the courts at the National Tennis Center in Santo Domingo East for the weeklong event. Many of the world's top senior players have competed in this event in their region during their tennis developmental years.
Elton John Greatest Hits Concert
The much-awaited Elton John Greatest Hits concert at Altos de Chavon is getting closer. Elton John has flown in his million-dollar piano for the Friday, 28 February event. Fans wanting to go and come back the same day can do so on a RD$1,650 tour organized by the Travelwise travel agency, leaving Santo Domingo at 4pm. Tickets for the concert start at US$140 (RD$6,020).
For more on events in the Dominican Republic, see

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