The Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) held in Punta Cana from April 20-22 drew international tourism buyers and media to the Dominican Republic (DR), the Caribbean’s “It” destination for natural beauty, amazing eco-tourism, and a growing wealth of sophisticated hotels and resorts.
During the country’s annual tourism conference, Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia stressed that the government will continue its strong investment in DR tourism infrastructure including building the Atlantic Boulevard in Puerto Plata, the revitalization and development of major highways and roads, and an “even deeper commitment to ensuring that the natural beauty of the DR is sustained for generations to come.”
Garcia announced the DR’s long-term commitment to developing beautiful, well-lit urban spaces where tourists can walk among shops and restaurants while experiencing the friendly culture and easy-going lifestyle of Dominicans. He noted the urban space developments will take place in cities like Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, and Samana. Garcia also highlighted the concerted effort by the country to revitalize roads and build new highways, including a highway from Santo Domingo to Samana that shortens drive time from 5.5 to 2 hours and a planned highway from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana that will shorten the drive from 3.5 to 2 hours.
In addition, cruise tourism to the DR is growing with the newly-opened Sans Souci terminal in the port of Santo Domingo and more cruise ships are regularly stopping in Samana and La Romana. He also noted that a study is underway to develop the port in Puerto Plata.
Referring to the global economic crisis, Tourism Minister Garcia said: “We have applied creativity to this situation, implementing increased advertising and promotions and signing new and expanded agreements with tour operators. We are opening nine new tourist offices including six in the US and three in Europe, intensifying our presence in many international key markets while also working with airline partners to increase and maintain airlift to the DR.
“Our country continues to attract international projects and capital from around the world. Savvy investors realize the DR is a very safe investment for tourism business,” he said. “Our tropical sunny climate, world-class seaports and marinas, eight international airports, and growing list of upscale hotels and resorts are not going away. Our stunning coastal areas and the annual appearance of humpback whales in Samana, our unspoiled beaches, pristine mountains, and inland rivers and waterfalls are not going to go away.”
The DR is taking a multidisciplinary approach to tourism, business, and environmental issues. “The public and private sector are working hand-in-hand creating new projects that make sense for our environment, businesses, and especially our families’ and visitors’ well-being,” Garcia added.
In addition, First Lady of the DR Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez presented the DR’s innovative national responsible tourism program at the conference and asked the tourism industry to stress quality over quantity. The DR’s responsible tourism efforts will incorporate both public and private sector support to encourage the country’s growing tourism industry to create and support programs that provide jobs for deserving families and sustain the DR’s unspoiled natural beauty. For more information, visit: http://beta.primeradama.gob.do/ .
During the event, Garcia also highlighted a special approach to sustainable tourism developments in the DR’s southwest region, noting the area is the most bio-diverse territory in the Caribbean. There are plans for an educational institution near Baharona that will study the wealth of species, fauna, and flora in the southwest with over US$900 million being invested into innovative sustainable tourism developments in the southwest that could serve as global models.