Tourism May 3, 2016 | 4:57 pm

Dominican Republic announces 2016 projects, strong tourism statistics

Dominican Republic /PRNewswire/ — Tourism industryexecutives at this year’s Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) conferenceannounced several developments to the future of the country and expressed greatenthusiasm for the projects to come. Radhamés Martínez-Aponte, Technical ViceMinister of Tourism, opened the event with a number of updates pertaining toDominican Republic’s overall tourism health and news in each major sector withinthe country.

Tourism Growth

Dominican Republic announced a growth of 5.8 percent inoverall tourism to Dominican Republic, a number alone growing faster than theCaribbean’s overall rate of 3.7 percent. Simón Suarez, President of theNational Hotel & Tourism Association (ASONAHORES), added that growth ratesin the country are double the world average, tracking at a median growth of 5.1percent over the last 5 years. The country is projected to reach 6 milliontotal visitors in 2016 – based on numbers thus far, the country is on track tomeet the targeted 7 percent growth needed to achieve this. Both speakers alsonoted that the United States remains the largest source market for Dominicantourism with 2 million visitors in 2015, and Canada following with 780,000.

Hotel Announcements

Dominican Republic’s hotel occupancy rate was also greaterthan that of overall Caribbean numbers, with 75.5 percent of hotel roomsoccupied in 2015 and an expected average of 80 percent in 2016. Punta Canaleads accommodations in Dominican Republic, currently offering 37,000 rooms inthe area. Its lead is followed by Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo, boasting 18percent and 10 percent of rooms available in-country, respectively. DominicanRepublic is pleased to see an increase in interest of hotel chains coming tothe country and reports a boom in both the development of new properties – suchas those by Barceló, Intercontinental and Hard Rock – as well as in remodelingand expansion projects, such as those occurring at Santo Domingo’s historicHotel El Embajador. By 2019, it is expected that 18,000 new hotel rooms willopen in the country, thanks to more than 55 new hotel projects and investmentsworth $2 billion coming into the tourism pipeline.

Air Arrivals

Officials announced that plans are underway to offerpreclearance facilities at Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) for U.S.travelers returning from Dominican Republic to allow a bypass of U.S. customsafter their return to the States, slated to begin in May 2017. PUJ continues tobe the main point of entry into Dominican Republic – welcoming 66 percent oftravelers – followed by Santo Domingo’s Las Americas International Airport(SDQ) and Puerto Plata’s Gregorio Luperón International Airport (POP).Together, the three airports represent 92 percent of foreign air travel intoDR. Dominican Republic currently has an open-sky policy, allowing for a largeinflux of flights – nine nationalities do not require a tourist visa, while 145others (including the US and Canada) need only to purchase a tourist card uponlanding. It is the country’s dream to eliminate the need for visas entirely andallow all to freely enjoy the variety of attractions offered in the country.

Cruise Arrivals

With Amber Cove in Puerto Plata opening in 2015, cruisearrivals increased by 64 percent, coming in at 550,000 visitors. Since AmberCove’s inauguration, an average of 5,000 cruise visitors arrive weekly to thearea, shifting by season. The country plans to expand its cruise marketbeginning in December 2016 in Cap Cana, signing contracts with 11 providers andcontinuing discussion with six others.

Diversification of Offerings

Numbers show that tourists are continuing to look forvacations beyond the beach and are showing greater interest in multi-destinationtravel – 80 percent of all visits to Dominican Republic’s protected areas areby foreigners, demonstrating that visitors are increasingly looking to explorebeyond their hotel.

MITUR is committed to expanding the country’smulti-destination offerings and diversifying its segmentation. With more than8,000 kilometers of roads created or expanded within the past three years, allmajor touristic areas are now connected and most are accessible within a 2-hourdrive. With opportunities for a wide range of tourism on the same island,Dominican Republic continues to hold a large advantage over other destinationsand is positioned to expand the diversity of its offerings, with MICE,ecotourism and luxury travel among the largest niches of focus for the comingyear.

While sun and beach remain the country’s most soughtattractions, Dominican Republic continues to work to expand its competitiveofferings in the tourism marketplace. Between adventurous Puerto Plata, lushSamaná, sunny Punta Cana, luxe La Romana, historic Santo Domingo and more, thecountry prides itself on offering something for every type of traveler andbudget.

This year’s DATE conference was held from April 19-21 atthe Paradisus Palma Real in Punta Cana.

For more information on Dominican Republic, visit www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.

About Dominican Republic

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and theCaribbean Sea on the south, our lush tropical and paradisiacal country boastsnearly 1,000 miles (1,609 km) of coastline, 250 miles (402 km) of the world’stop beaches, magnificent resorts and hotels, and a variety of sports,recreation and entertainment options. Here you can dance to the pulse poundingthrill of the merengue, renew in our luxurious and diverse accommodations,explore ancient relics of centuries past, delight in delicious Dominican gastronomyor enjoy ecotourism adventures in our magnificent national parks, mountainranges, rivers and beaches.

Known for our warm and hospitable people, DominicanRepublic is a destination like no other, featuring astounding nature,intriguing history and rich cultural experiences like music, art and festivals,plus uniquely Dominican specialties such as cigars, rum, chocolate, coffee,merengue, amber and larimar.

Dominican Republic features the best beaches, fascinatinghistory and culture, and is a chosen escape for celebrities, couples andfamilies alike. Visit Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism’s official websiteat: www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.

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