Economy August 15, 2022 | 11:35 am

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Tourism recovery: Dominican Republic has historic gains

Santo Domingo, DR.
The Dominican Republic continues to lead the global tourism recovery. The Dominican Republic belongs to the small group of countries showing a rapid tourism recovery by 2022. It has already achieved a recovery above pre-pandemic, even though the vast majority of countries are still far from full recovery.

In May, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recognized the Dominican Republic as a leader in the tourism recovery process. In 2021, out of 106 countries with information in the World Tourism Barometer, 8 out of 10 showed a reduction in their tourist flow by more than 50%, and of those, 48 showed a decrease of 75% or more in their tourism.

The Dominican Republic belonged to a select group of 5 countries with the best performance and a reduction of less than 25%. Of this group, the Dominican Republic handled 70% of total air passengers, and three dealt with a flow of less than 800 thousand annual pre-pandemic air tourists.

Of these five countries, only the Dominican Republic was in the Top 30 countries for air arrivals in the world and with the highest average stay (8.5 vs. two nights for the rest). In addition, during the last four-month period, the country achieved the best four-month period in history. All this made us the best example of post-pandemic recovery.

These results reflect the implementation of a recovery plan designed and executed with presidential support, joint work between the public and private sectors, a unified public sector, and a country eager to return to normality. There were no recipes or pre-existing theories; there were no textbooks, and we had to design a plan and be very alert. Each country invented its own recipe.

As a country, we were innovators and pioneers in many initiatives that other countries would later emulate: total opening of borders with internal control, prioritization of vaccines for the entire sector, travel assistance plan, certified government protocols, strengthening of alliances with value chains, visits to major issuers to present a safe destination, and a plan to support internal allies.

Amid the pandemic and despite finding a ministry without information and a manual, an intelligence system was implemented in record time, which allowed monitoring the results of the strategy and measuring the risks on a daily basis to react promptly.

This recovery process in the Dominican Republic – although affected at the beginning of 2022 by the Omicron, the heavy snowfall in the United States, and the war between Russia and Ukraine – has continued, and, as of April 2022, non-resident flows have been historically high when compared to similar months in previous years. July became the best month in our country’s history of tourist arrivals.

There is still a long way to go in recovering world tourism, and the Dominican Republic is once again in a privileged place compared to the rest of the world.

The UNWTO estimates that world tourism declined during the first five months of the year by 54% compared to 2019. Of the 126 countries with information from 2022, 51 had drops in their tourism greater than 50%, with an average reduction of 78%, and in 44 of them, tourism was reduced in the range of 25% – 50%.

In that period, eight countries showed an average increase of 9.2% in the flow with respect to pre-pandemic, representing 1.26% of the total number of tourists in 2019. Only three countries (including the Dominican Republic) showed negative growth rates of less than 5%, thus forming part of the small group of 11 countries whose total tourism increased or was already very close to pre-pandemic levels.

When the performance is analyzed country by country, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Mexico continue to lead the recovery in 2022. Seven of the eight countries that showed an increase in tourist arrivals in the first five months of 2022 are countries that received less than 800 thousand pre-pandemic tourists by air and are in low positions in the world ranking (above the Top 80 of 143 countries, in terms of air tourism).

The total flow of air passengers for the countries with positive growth, excluding Puerto Rico, is similar to all the tourists received by the Dominican Republic in that period.

And this leadership is more evident when analyzing the outlook for recovery, where the Dominican Republic remains in a very select group of countries that have already recovered. If we analyze the last 12 months of Dominican tourism, it is evident that the country has already surpassed 6.8 million arrivals, a level never reached before. However, 48% of the countries expect a full recovery in 2023 and 44% in 2024.

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