Economy November 23, 2023 | 8:08 am

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Competitiveness is key for tourism investment to continue growing

Santo Domingo.- Foreign investors in the Dominican tourism industry highlight several key factors contributing to their decision to invest, including the country’s natural beauty, rich culture, legal security, and effective public-private collaboration. However, they also recognize challenges that the Dominican Republic faces in maintaining its tourism sector’s leadership, especially compared to long-established, profitable Caribbean markets like Cancun and Jamaica.

Abel Matutes Prats, President of Palladium Hotel Group, during the panel “Dominican tourism: vision of Spanish businessmen,” moderated by Simón Suárez of Puntacana Group, noted that while Dominican tourism has made extraordinary leaps in competitiveness, there is a need to focus beyond just arrival numbers. The emphasis should be on the value created and left in the community.

Key areas identified for maintaining leadership include tourism sustainability, territorial planning, specialized human resource training, and regulation of vacation rentals. These factors are crucial for ensuring that tourism development is balanced and beneficial to local communities.

Sabina Fluxá, Executive Director of the Iberostar Group, pointed out the growing influence of the American market in tourism investments, which has affected prices and rates in other Caribbean destinations competing with the Dominican Republic.

Gabriel Escarrer, President and CEO of Meliá Hotels International, emphasized the critical role of air connectivity in tourism competitiveness. He noted that flights to certain markets are significantly more expensive than to other competitor destinations. Escarrer suggested benchmarking to understand the Dominican Republic’s position relative to other destinations and to attract investments that are sustainable and add value in the long term.

Encarna Piñero, Executive Director of Grupo Piñero, stressed the importance of Spanish companies setting an example in sustainable practices. This involves balancing nature conservation, community engagement, and government collaboration.

In conclusion, Escarrer proposed the creation of a strategic tourism plan by the government, uniting efforts among tourist groups to outline a long-term vision for the Dominican Republic’s position as a tourist destination over the next decade. This plan would focus on sustainable growth and development in the tourism sector.

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