Arrivals Surge Puts Puerto Plata On Dominican Republic Travel Map
PHOTO: A seaside amphitheater is under construction near historic Fortaleza San Felipe in Puerto Plata. (Photo by Brian Major)
While the all-inclusive Punta Cana resort district remains the Dominican Republic’s tourism staple, the country’s surging arrivals growth is also due to development in other regions. In recent years, Puerto Plata has emerged as a rival to the capital city of Santo Domingo as a new center of Dominican Republic tourism.
Puerto Plata tourist arrivals surged in 2015 as visitors to the city on the country’s northwest coast increased 11.5 percent year-over year, officials from the Dominican Republic's Puerto Plata Tourism Cluster (CTDPP) said this week.
Puerto Plata’s tourism leap is due in significant measure to the October 2015 opening of Carnival Corp.’s $85 million Amber Cove cruise port, which will host more than 400,000 vacationers this year according to CTDPP officials. The operations at Amber Cove, which refers to the region’s historically rich mineral wealth and generous amber reserves, bring an average of 5,000 visitors to Puerto Plata each week.
PHOTO: Carnival Corp's Amber Cove as seen from Sky Bar. (Photo by Barry Kaufman)
Additionally the Dominican government has launched infrastructure projects in the city’s historic center and surrounding region. An amphitheater under construction near Fortaleza San Felipe, a 16th century fortress, is nearing completion, while a seaside malecon (boulevard) winding through Puerto Plata’s downtown districts is slated for renovation. The malecon offers a scenic and popular gathering spot for tourists and locals.
Puerto Plata’s attractions also include an amber museum and the Caribbean’s only aerial tramway, which takes visitors to the summit of Pico Isabel de Torres, a 2,601-foot high mountain located within Puerto Plata’s city limits.
The government is also restoring historic buildings, installing new safety surveillance systems and improving roads in downtown Puerto Plata and the neighboring resort town of Sosua. CTDPP is also planning an artisanal marketplace in the Imbert municipality, said Lorenzo Sancassani, interim director of tourism. The marketplace will “allow simplified access to the popular goods created by Puerto Plata artisans,” said Sancassani.
READ MORE: Dominican Tourism's Greatest Moment
The government’s infrastructure programs are designed to support growing hotel development and demand in Puerto Plata. The city now accounts for 18 percent of the Dominican Republic’s hotel inventory, trailing only Punta Cana while eight percentage points ahead of the next-largest city, Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Even prior to Amber Cove’s arrival Puerto Plata had experienced a tourism rebound this decade, driven in part by its proximity to the increasingly popular resort towns of Cabarete and Sosua. The former town is recognized as an international destination for kiteboarding and both offer numerous adventure tourism activities including hiking, canyon exploration and rappelling, mountain biking and whitewater rafting.
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