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February 24, 2015
  • Tourism Minister forecasts record growth in 2015
  • Construction starts at Secrets Cap Cana Resorts
  • Travel in January was up 7.5%
  • Punta Cana attracts the most tourists
Tourism Minister forecasts record growth in 2015
Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia is forecasting that travel to the Dominican Republic will increase by more than 10% in 2015. He said that this year's growth rate will exceed 2014's. Speaking in the presence of President Danilo Medina and senior officers of Apple Leisure at a ceremony marking the start of construction of the Secrets Cap Cana Resorts in Punta Cana, Garcia said the tourism sector in the Dominican Republic was experiencing "its best days."
Construction starts at Secrets Cap Cana Resorts
President Danilo Medina attended the symbolic start of construction of Apple Leisure's next branded Secrets Cap Cana Resorts and Spa on Friday 20 February 2015. The US$160 million hotel will have 470 suites, eight restaurants and six bars, and several rooms for meetings and conventions. Speaking at the event, Apple Leisure Group founder John Mullen announced that around 900 people would be employed at the hotel.
Apple Leisure Group CEO Alejandro Zozaya said the hotel should be ready in time for the 2016-17 winter season and announced a soft opening for October 2016.
Apple Leisure already operates seven hotels in the country. Mullen said that in 20 months' time, the company expects to have a portfolio of 10,000 hotel rooms and 7,000 employees.
Frank Rainieri of the Punta Cana Group, National Hotel & Tourism Association (Asonahores) executive vice president Arturo Villanueva, Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo, Banco de Reservas general manager Enrique Ramirez Paniagua and Jean Alain Rodriguez, executive director of the Center for Exports and Investment of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD) also attended the event.
Apple Leisure Group is the top seller of all-inclusive vacation packages from the United States to the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Jamaica. The parent company includes travel marketing companies Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions and CheapCaribbean. The company has been strengthening its positioning as Mexico and the Dominican Republic's largest destination management company.
In Punta Cana, the company manages the Zoetry Agua Punta Cana, Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, Breathless Punta Cana, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, Dreams Punta Cana Resort and Spa and the Now Larimar Punta Cana.
In La Romana the company operates the Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa and as of October 2015 will also be managing the Dreams Dominicus La Romana.
Travel in January was up 7.5%
Despite a series of snowstorms that have caused travel plan cancellations, travel to the Dominican Republic continues to grow. The Central Bank of the Dominican Republic reports that 33,833 more non-resident travelers entered the country in January 2015 compared to January 2014. Of this total 23,376 were foreigners (up 6.2%), while 8,457 were Dominican expats, or 22% more.
The Central Bank says that 96.5% of the travelers visited for recreation, 1.7% to see friends and family and 1.2% for business. 95.5% of them stayed at hotels. 57.2% were in the 21-49 age bracket, with an almost equal split of 50.5% female and 49.5% male visitors.
The Central Bank says that the average 10% growth the country has experienced over the past 16 months is explained by the recovery in the US market, the main source for travel to the Dominican Republic. Tourists from the United States prefer traveling to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.
Total number of arrivals at the eight international airports was 536,234 visitors, including Dominicans and foreigners.
Tourist arrivals were mainly from the United States, Canada and Mexico (57%), followed by Europe (27.6%) and South America (12.8%).
In January, 20,682 more travelers arrived from the United States. There were also increases from Brazil (4,777 more), Venezuela (3,448), Germany (3,280), UK (3,054), Spain (2,532), Colombia (1,518), Sweden (1,130), Chile (904), France (860) and Italy (858).
Only travel from Russia was down by 0.9%. There were 12,226 fewer Russian travelers in January, reflecting the recent downturn of the Russian economy.
This was compensated by increases in visitors from Germany (15.4%), UK (39.2%), Spain (27.8%), France (3%), Italy (8.9%) and Sweden (34.9%).
Punta Cana attracts the most tourists
A total of 290,194 tourists arrived at the Punta Cana International Airport in January, or 66.6% of all tourists arriving in the Dominican Republic that month. The reason is that most travelers visit the country for leisure and Punta Cana has the largest number of resorts in the Dominican Republic.
14.3% of arrivals flew to Las Americas International Airport (Santo Domingo), 11.2% to Puerto Plata, 3.1% to La Romana and 2.9% to Santiago's international airports. Northern Santo Domingo's La Isabela and El Catey in Samana made up for the remainder 1.9% of travelers.
An additional 14,856 passengers traveled to Punta Cana in January 2015 compared to January 2014. Travel to Puerto Plata's Gregorio Luperon International Airport was up 5,186, travel to Las Americas was up 2,846 passengers and to Santiago's El Cibao 2,089 passengers.

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