Dominican Republic woos U.S. couples

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Tourism officials in the Dominican Republic are making a pitch to attract the estimated 18% or so of engaged U.S. couples who choose to book destination weddings -- along with fiances-to-be scouting proposal locations and other romance travelers -- touting not only the island's proximity to the States but its natural and cultural charms as well.

"Located in the eastern Caribbean, the D.R. is easy to get to with eight international airports throughout the country," said Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia, in a recent statement. "Caribbean sunsets, pristine seasides and palm-lined beaches greet visitors as they fly into our lovely country.

"When a couple selects the D.R. for the most important day of their lives, we recognize the importance and handle all aspects of the celebration as if the couple were part of our own family," he added.

Garcia and his colleagues point to each of the island's geographic regions as ideal romance locales. On the east coast, possible wedding venues include the Altos de Chavon hillside village; the Cuevas de las Maravillas (Cave of Wonders), with crystallized minerals etched with some 500 pre-Columbian petroglyphs; and the islands of Isla Catalina and Isla Saona.

In the Northeast Coast Region, couples can whale-watch on Samana Bay from January to March, dive off the waterfall at El Salto del Limon or while away a week at romantic redoubt Cayo Levantado.

North Coast attractions include the Ocean World marine park, the cable-car ride up 2,565-foot Mount Isabela Torres and the 27 waterfalls at Damajuagua.

To the south, capital city Santo Domingo is rich in historical architecture dating back to the early 16th century.

For more on romance travel and destination weddings in the D.R., call (888) 374-6361 or visit www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.

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