Insight logoThe Dominican Republic anticipates a "solid 2010," according to Magaly Toribio, vice minister of international promotion in the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism.

For 2009, visitor arrivals from the U.S. are expected to exceed 1 million for the fifth consecutive year. Through November, the numbers already had reached close to 1 million, according to Toribio.

In 2008, total visitor numbers to the Dominican Republic totaled more than 3.5 million, with the U.S. accounting for 1.1 million.

Arrivals through November increased by 6.1% over November 2008.

"With eight international airports, three cruise terminals and more planned, new markets and a strong marketing and sales outreach, the Dominican Republic is going to be solid in 2010," Toribio said.

2009 has not been an easy year for the Caribbean, and the D.R. is no exception. Strategies used this year included increased advertising and promotions and signing new and expanded agreements with tour operators.

"We are intensifying our presence in many key international markets while also working with airline partners to increase and maintain airlift to the D.R. from traditional markets such as the U.S.," Toribio said.

The D.R. will open new U.S. tourist offices in the first quarter of 2010 in Atlanta, Boston and Washington in addition to its emerging key markets in Prague, Czech Republic; Stockholm, Sweden; and Vienna.

Toribio said that "global awareness of the D.R. as a premier Caribbean country is growing. Our tour operators are happy with the destination and are adding more seats. The D.R. has been a hot and emerging destination, even in a down economy."

On track for 2010 is the 1,800-room Hard Rock International Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, a rebranding of the Moon Palace Resort set to open in the spring. Hard Rock's first Caribbean resort will combine the distinctive Hard Rock atmosphere with the five-star, all-inclusive Moon Palace Resort's luxury accommodations, 11 pools, four swim-up bars, a kids' pool and a lazy river.

Also opening in 2010 is RockResorts' Balcones del Atlantico, a multiroom villa-suite resort in Las Terrenas on the Samana peninsula. The resort will feature four private spa treatment areas, two pools with swim-up bars, a three-meal-a-day beach restaurant and bar and a gourmet deli shop.

The first phase of the $110 million Puerto Marina project at Cap Cana residential development broke ground this month, with completion set for 2011.

The D.R. has increased U.S. airlift this year with new charters and extended flights from Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

Apple Vacations launched direct flights Dec. 28 from Chicago to Puerto Plata, and JetBlue is increasing its flights from key U.S. markets including Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando this winter.

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