Dominican Republic -- At last months Dominican Annual Tourism
Exchange, news centered around infrastructure improvements taking
place on the island and a bulging room count.
Republic has 61,000 hotel rooms. By the end of 2006, it will have
65,000. Many of the new rooms will be at luxury resorts.
One of the
newcomers, Paradisus Palma Real, hosted DATE in conjunction with
its grand opening. The 554-suite resort is the flagship of Sol
Melias luxury, all-inclusive brand. Paradisus Palma Real has 12,447
square feet of meetings space and seven restaurants.
But destined to
lead the pack in size and grandeur in the D.R. is 30,000-acre Cap
Cana, which is under development south of Punta Cana and is
scheduled to be completed this year. The $1.5 billion development
runs along 3.5 miles of beach and includes golf courses,
condominiums, villages, a marina, residences and several
completion at Cap Cana is Villas Caleton, where several of the
thatched-roof cottages are already available for rent. A clubhouse
with restaurant and pool serves cottage guests and golfers playing
the surrounding course.
designed another of the developments golf courses and also lent his
nickname to the lodge that will adjoin it: the Golden Bear
In the boutique
market is Tortuga Bay Hotel, a private enclave of 15 villas that
opened on Dec. 15 and is nestled within the Punta Cana Resort &
Club. The hotels decor was supervised by fashion designer Oscar de
la Renta, who resides nearby.
making their mark on new developments here, as well. There are four
full-service marinas in the D.R., and work is in progress on eight
Marina, located at Cofresi in the Puerto Plata area, opened when
only 80% completed because of high demand. It has 83 wet slips and
The popular Casa
de Campo Marina and Yacht Club recently expanded to 350 slips, with
167 of those devoted to large yachts. It also added 10 stores, a
restaurant and a piano bar.
When Cap Canas
marina village is completed, it will house more than 500 boats and
a shopping complex of luxury boutiques, with guests ferried to and
from yachts by Venice-style vaporettos, or water
Referring to the
islands upscale tourism trend, D.R. Vice Minister of Tourism Magaly
Toribio advised DATE attendees that more work is necessary in terms
of personnel training and infrastructure development before
high-end products can be marketed fully. Meanwhile, tourism
officials plan to launch a modest promotional campaign in
cooperation with the private sector.
Felix Jimenez stressed that despite the growth of the luxury
segment in the D.R., the island will continue to pursue travelers
of various means.
Although we see
the luxury market as a positive development, we still consider our
destination as having something for everyone, he said. Much like
the airlines, we have first class, business class and
The D.R. welcomed
3.7 million stayover visitors in 2005, an increase of 7% over 2004.
One million of those visitors were from the U.S., an 8%
We expect a 15%
increase from the U.S. for all of 2006 because of better [airlift],
Toribio said. Tour operators here at DATE tell us the new Delta
service from Atlanta to Punta Cana and Santo Domingo has already
increased their business. They predict a 25% to 30% sales growth
based on their first three months this year.
Toribio said she
and her colleagues are pursuing even more airlift out of the
attendees an overview of the islands recent tourism development. He
said that the D.R.s bread and butter has always been
budget-conscious tourists and all-inclusive resorts. Now, the
tendency is shifting to a higher standard of quality, with
investments of more than $200,000 per hotel room.
To keep pace, a
vast road-building effort is under way in two regions. Punta Cana
is gaining a four-lane boulevard running 40 miles along the coast,
linking communities without driving through them.
Coral Corridor is the second such arterial undertaking, designed to
cut driving times considerably between Santo Domingo and the La
Romana-Punta Cana area.
The road will
enable visitors to enjoy the coastal beaches and Santo Domingo in
years, 20 golf courses -- 19 by the sea and all by renowned course
designers -- will occupy this stretch.
government spends a fifth of its annual budget on tourism-related
expenses, according to Jimenez.
This forced the
government to change its attitude toward economic development. In
this year alone, we were originally given $22 million for tourism,
and the president last month added $5 million, allowing us to spend
$27 million in advertising and promotion. This is an
acknowledgement by the government of the importance of tourism to
the Dominican Republic.
the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].