Tourist preference for non-traditional accommodations increases in the Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo.- The Dominican Republic’s tourism industry has seen a recovery in the number of overnight travelers visiting the country, whether for cultural exploration or work-related purposes. However, there has been a noticeable shift in their accommodation preferences over the past two years.
According to statistics on non-resident foreigners’ profiles published by the Dominican Central Bank (BCRD), hotels have traditionally been the primary choice for tourists, with a preference level of 91.9% over the past seven years. However, this average has dropped by 15.2 percentage points, standing at 76.7% in the first quarter of 2023.
In 2019, before the pandemic-induced health emergency, 92.9% of tourists reported staying in hotels during their visit. However, this figure dropped by 9.1 percentage points in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, which led to the closure or limited operations of many hotel establishments.
The travel dynamics were further affected by sanitary restrictions imposed on individuals traveling outside their home countries. Consequently, in 2021, 28.5% of tourists opted for alternative accommodations instead of hotels, marking an increase of over 12 percentage points compared to the previous year. This meant that only 71.5% of non-resident foreigners chose to stay in hotels.
While there has been some improvement in the past 16 months, the data for the first quarter of this year still falls below 80%. Approximately 21.9% of foreign visitors chose accommodations other than hotels, a significant increase compared to the 9.9% recorded a decade ago.
Short-term rental accommodations gain popularity among tourists, with platforms like Airbnb, Booking, and Expedia becoming increasingly popular choices. Although the Central Bank’s data does not provide a breakdown of where tourists stay when they opt out of hotels, it is evident that short-term rentals are gaining traction.
Jacqueline Mora, the Technical Vice Minister of the Ministry of Tourism, acknowledges the changing profile of tourists worldwide, as they increasingly prefer options like Airbnb. She notes that this shift impacts hotel occupancy rates but believes that the variations have been minimal considering the number of available rooms. Mora also emphasizes that fluctuations in occupancy depend on factors such as the time of year, the type of tourist visiting, and the influence of international markets like Europe.
“The industry is experiencing changes, and we are no exception. We are seeing a younger tourist who likes to visit multiple destinations and chooses to stay in an Airbnb for one location and a hotel for another,” stated Mora, highlighting the evolving nature of the tourism sector.