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April 1, 2014
  • Luis Emilio Rodriguez: Tourism at its best moment
  • Radhames Martinez: DR tourism on the right track
  • Sheraton returns to Santo Domingo
  • Aventurate 2014: the annual ecotourism fair
Luis Emilio Rodriguez: Tourism at its best moment
"Tourism in the Dominican Republic is at its best moment," said the president of the National Hotel & Tourism Association (Asonahores), Luis Emilio Rodriguez on Sunday, 30 March at the close of the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange event in Punta Cana. He mentioned that the stats for the first months of the year have been very good, and is optimistic the trend will continue.
Rodriguez said that the extension of tourism industry tax incentives to benefit the nation and for an additional five years to allow for renovation of hotels that are more than 10 years old would continue to attract new capital investments.
As an indication that tourism in the Dominican Republic has come a long way, he pointed out that present Minister of Tourism is a pre-candidate for the ruling party presidential candidacy. "This is proof that tourism is at its best moment," said Rodriguez.
Radhames Martinez: DR tourism on the right track
Deputy Minister of Tourism Radhames Martinez attributed last year's 6% growth in visitors to the Dominican Republic to economic recovery in source markets and consolidation of Dominican tourism. Speaking at the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange, Martinez said that the DR growth is double the Caribbean average.
Martinez spoke of growth in the numbers of visitors from Germany, South American countries and the United States that represents 40% of foreign visitors. He said new markets such as Russia have continued growing.
He said that the country now offers visitors the opportunity to take a look all around. "Santo Domingo is now only two hours from Punta Cana," he commented, acknowledging that most tourists fly into the east coast beach destination. As of 16 March of this year, the Punta Cana International Airport had reported a 13% increase in travelers since the beginning of the year. 64% of all tourists arrive via that airport.
Martinez said that tourists staying in Punta Cana could now come to visit the Colonial City.
"Santo Domingo will be at the top level of Latin American cities," he commented mentioning the major urban renewal project underway.
He mentioned that Puerto Plata on the north coast has taken new steps to identify new cultural attractions and make them available to tourists, in order to prepare for the arrival of thousands of tourists once the new Carnival Maimon cruise ship terminal opens at the end of 2014.
Martinez is optimistic the trend will continue as investors make the most of the extended tax incentives for building new hotels, tourist attractions and remodeling hotels. The incentives now apply nationwide. He said the law would boost the city tourism, medical tourism and meetings, incentives, conventions and events segments.
Martinez stressed the importance of the excellent tourist roadways already in place in the eastern region of the country. He said that the Santiago bypass has cut driving time to Puerto Plata from Santo Domingo by half an hour, and that work would soon begin on the new connection to Puerto Plata to make the trip even shorter. Also being designed is the new bypass to Bani to open up new beach areas, such as Corbanitos, to investment, and the Montecristi highway from Puerto Plata.
"The country is headed in the right direction, there is more to do, but work is underway," he said.
He commented that another strong point for the Dominican Republic is the government attitude toward open skies. Martinez himself is the Ministry of Tourism representative in this area. "In aviation there are no limitations to flights. All regular, charter flights are fast-tracked and approved", he said, stressing that in terms of bilateral transport agreements, there is no problem.
Sheraton returns to Santo Domingo
On Thursday, 27 March, the Santo Domingo Sheraton reopened for business in Santo Domingo. Paula Lama, vice president for the Hoteles Nacionales that owns the property, said that the reopening is part of the transformation of the hotel industry in Santo Domingo and new initiatives for promoting the city as a prime tourism destination. She highlighted the fact that the new highways from Punta Cana and La Romana make it easier for visitors to come to the city. "The Colonial City is the big draw," she said. "These are strategic times to position the city as a tourism destination," she stressed.
Zenon Jimenez, sales director at the 245-room hotel, said that the city hotel is located on the Malecon and is only 25 minutes to the Las Americas International Airport, 10 minutes to the city's business and financial district, five minutes from the historical part of the city, and five minutes from the cruise port.
Jimenez said that 83% more meeting space was added in the remodeling making the hotel a preferred location for meetings, incentives, conventions and events. The Sheraton now offers 2,200 square meters of meeting space (more than 22,000 square feet) and 13 meeting spaces, including a large area of 828 square meters, and the new Malecon Terrace (tent) for social and business receptions for up to 1,200 people. All this plus the bonus of 300 free parking spaces for activities.
With the hotel open now, works will continue throughout the rest of the year in order for the full renovation to be completed by the end of the year.
Aventurate 2014: the annual ecotourism fair
Agora Mall in Santo Domingo is presenting a choice selection of nature, adventure and other alternatives to sun, beach and sand tourism. The event is sponsored by USAID and the Dominican Touristic Competitiveness Consortium (CDCT). It is the place to go to learn more about small hotels, adventure tours and other fun options for vacationing in the Dominican Republic. The event is held two weeks before the Easter vacation, so there is still time to book rooms for the peak holiday weekend in the Dominican Republic. This year the event is being held at the Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy avenues mall to attract walk-in traffic and promote the many businesses more effectively. For more information, call 809 872-0001.

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