Punta Cana takes steps to be the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean
Frank Elias Rainieri
His business gift was not the only thing Frank Elías Rainieri inherited from his father, Frank Rainieri, but also his vision of developing sectors with great potential and minor exploitation.
Frank Elías, who just six months ago became his father’s successor as president of the Puntacana Group, already has several projects in the pipeline that go beyond the tourism sector and seek to turn Punta Cana into the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean.
The current vision of Frank Elías is that Punta Cana is more than sun, beach, and hotels. It is about diversifying his business model and promoting a new industry, just as his father did 50 years ago in this destination.
The purpose of making this tourist destination much more dynamic has led to the creation of projects such as “Punta Cana Hub”, with which it is intended to create technology companies in the area and create an equity fund to promote fintech, according to statements given by Rainieri at the Listín Breakfast, headed by the president of Editora Listín, Manuel Corripio Alonso.
Free Trade Zones
Given this reality that the Puntacana Group now assumes, an investment of RD$18,000 million is expected within the next 36 months in five large strategic projects to achieve the relaunch of the family business. Rainieri, who was accompanied by Simón Suárez, former president of the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (Asonahores) and current Vice President of Institutional Relations and Projects of Grupo Puntacana, highlights that one of the projects will be a free zone park of 200,000 square meters of industrial warehouse, which will consist of a combination of technological and medical products, in addition to working so that many high-end products that are not finished here finish their manufacturing process in the country.
Likewise, an MRO workshop will be developed for the maintenance, repair, and operation of large aircraft, a project that entails an investment of RD$2,000 million, which is in the closing phase of the agreement and will demand 1,000 aviation engineers.
Among the jobs that will be carried out here are painting planes, repairing brakes, and renovating aircraft interiors.
Likewise, Rainieri, in the Listín meeting where the director and deputy director of the medium, Miguel Franjul and Fabio Cabral, also participated, reported on the development of a logistics center to transport cargo from South America and North America from Punta Cana to Europe.
“For example, the fruits from Peru that go to Europe can arrive by ship to Caucedo or Haina and from there to Punta Cana and leave by plane to Europe. With this method, they manage to reduce transportation from one month to two weeks”, explains Rainieri.
In addition, there are logistics centers in Europe for merchandise such as clothing and pieces that can be installed in Punta Cana and from here send their products to South America in less than 12 hours.
However, the Puntacana Group will not abandon its raison d’être. Still, it will complement it, for which it also plans to develop a new hotel and the expansion of terminal B at the Punta Cana airport.
Rainieri states that there is still a challenge that the destination must face. For example, although nearly four million tourists arrive in Punta Cana each year, there are only 100,000 residents in the area when the figure should be between 350 and 400 thousand residents.
The owner of the tourist company understands that the current statistics do not correspond to the hotel density and that if new residents arrive in Punta Cana, this would attract new jobs, schools, supermarkets, and the installation of other businesses.
DR in Fitur
Rainieri has a strong conviction when he speaks: “The Dominican Republic is in the eyes of investors,” adding that the Madrid tourism fair, Fitur 2022, showed that the country has to look abroad for investors who will be able to continue with the sustainable development of tourism.
For him, these entrepreneurs with whom the country encourages a relationship are the ones who will invest in the three current large local tourism projects: Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo and Cabo Rojo in Pedernales.
“The Dominican Republic has come out of COVID very strong, there is no country in the world that has recovered so quickly in the tourism sector,” he highlights.
Rainieri indicates that the Dominican banking system has primarily supported the financing of the tourism sector.
“Today, Dominican banks have rates as competitive as any other financial institution in the world.Therefore, wee have an opportunity and a luck. We are a currency creation sector,” he states.
He underlines that the tourism sector is very satisfied with banking because when an investor decides to set up operations here, he seeks legal security, road safety and financing.
Rainieri believes that President Luis Abinader at Fitur in Madrid, Spain, marked a before and after in tourism history.
This tourist fair organized by Asonahores will receive all the foreign tourist offices to start working together to sell the destination this year.
Local tourism has to continue its sustainable development, says Rainieri.