D.R. to pour $1 billion into tourism by 2012 By Gay Nagle Myers / April 04, 2008 Share 1 -- The Dominican Republic plans to invest approximately $1 billion in tourism infrastructure by 2012, according to Felix Jimenez, minister of tourism.As the country's tourism development continues, so too does its market share, Jimenez said.Major developments are taking place along the island's north and east coasts as well as in the south central region, said Jimenez. Luxury hotel brands along the east coast include Aman, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Westin, whereas 10 years ago only Casa de Campo existed in the high-end market," Jimenez said.The minister described Cabarete on the north coast as an "emerging destination for kiteboarding." A boutique hotel and bar/restaurant will be added to Cabarete's inventory this year.In the south central region, a convention center is planned for Santo Domingo, the capital's first such facility.The country's cruise passenger numbers, which totaled more than 300,000 last year, was up 18% over 2006. That figure is expected to jump to half a million this year, according to Magaly Toribio, vice minister of tourism. The new Sans Souci Port in Santo Domingo will formally open in the next few months.Developments in the transportation arena include improvements to the highway from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo, shortening the drive to two hours from almost four.Tourists from North America accounted for 48% of visitors in 2007, with 34% coming from the U.S. and 14% from Canada. European visitors accounted for 39%, with the remaining 13% from Latin America.Tourist stopover arrivals totaled more than 3.9 million visitors in 2007, up slightly from 2006. January, March, October and December registered the largest monthly increases over the same months in 2006.To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.