Dominican Republic Initiatives Support Surging Tourist Arrivals
Following an “exceptional” five percent increase in tourist arrivals in 2012, the Dominican Republic’s private and public stakeholders have launched several initiatives to accelerate the country’s strong tourism growth. “Last year we had a growth rate of around 4.95 percent, this level of growth was the most significant we have seen around the Caribbean, as our competition wd a as lower, with Jamaica at 1.8 percent and Riviera Maya at 3.4 percent,” said Radames Martinez-Aponte, vice minister of tourism, speaking at the recent Dominican Annual Travel Exchange (DATE) conference in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
In addition to new travel advertising and marketing programs, the ministry will spend $2.5 million to develop the Puerto Plata tourist district. “We are going to promote a defined image of Puerto Plata, [with] incentives to cover the entire district,” said Martinez-Aponte.
The ministry will also continue recent work to revitalize the historic Santo Domingo colonial zone, including the restoration of historic facades and the installation of video security cameras in public areas. Furthermore, Santo Domingo will soon be connected to the increasingly popular Samana peninsula via a new highway that will cut travel time to one hour and 45 minutes.
Dominican tourism has surged despite continued impact from the 2008 economic downturn, Martinez-Aponte said. “Most of the economies of the main nations for our tourism have still not recovered from the 2008 crisis,” he said. “The only way we will be able to confront reduction in demand is by improving and diversifying our products, improving infrastructure and promoting tourism.”
The ministry of tourism’s $13 million budget for 2013 is its largest ever, said Martinez-Aponte and includes $1.7 million for “infrastructure and promotion. “We have a goal of 10 million tourists during the next 10 years,” Martinez-Aponte said. “When we fix goals we can reach them.”
The ministry had earlier reported the country’s seven international airports hosted 3.9 million visitors in 2012, a 5.9 percent increase over 2011. Fifty-five percent of the visitors were from North America; a 10.3 percent increase compared with 2011. The Dominican Republic also recorded an all-time high in visitor growth between January and March of 2012, with 1.7 million tourists, a nine percent increase compared with the same period in 2011. Tourist arrivals from the U.S. grew by 14 percent over the same period.
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