The Dominican Republic reported an 8.4% overall increase in visitor figures in Q1 2012 over the same period a year ago, according to Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia.
U.S. and Canada visitor arrivals jumped 14% in the first quarter of 2012.
“The main reason that visits continue to increase include our nature, climate, beaches, golf courses, hotels, culture, and gastronomy as well as the friendliness of the Dominican people,” he said.
The minister also pointed to strategic investment in new tourism products and infrastructure.
“The Dominican Republic has systematically developed new roads and highways to connect diverse tourism offerings, creating a revolution in the tourism movement here,” he said.
Among those new developments:
• The Coral Highway, which opens in August, will shorten the drive from the capital of Santo Domingo to La Romana, Bayahibe and Punta Cana to two hours.
• Grupo Pinero, developers of Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts, will add five new Gran Bahia hotels (three in Punta Cana and two in Playa Nueva Romana near La Romana) in the Dominican Republic, according to Pablo Pinero, president and founder. The Spanish hotel firm currently has four properties each in Samana and Punta Cana and one each in Puerto Plata and La Romana (as well as one in Jamaica, four in the Riviera Maya, Mexico and six in Spain). Pinero said the total investment would exceed $250 million and create 3,000 new jobs.
• Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide will debut its Westin brand in 2013 with the 204-room Westin Puntacana in the Playa Blanca area of the Puntacana Resort & Club. The resort will be the second Starwood to open in the Dominican Republic: the 122-room Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village is set to open in November.
• The recently opened Puerto Bahia Marina & Residences in Samana Bay includes the 33-suite Bannister Hotel, a cafe, an infinity pool and a 105-slip marina.
• Paradisus Punta Cana completed guestroom renovations and will debut its Gabi restaurant renovation in October.