Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

The Dominican Republic's Ministry of Tourism is gearing up for the 2019 season and beyond with a slew of announcements, including a new brand campaign for Santo Domingo and new resorts and renovations.

The brand-campaign strategy is to highlight Santo Domingo in order to help diversify the D.R.'s tourism offerings; in other words, to emphasize that there is an eclectic and vibrant urban destination beyond the D.R.'s traditional sun-and-sand offerings. The campaign's slogan, "More than History," will spotlight what makes the Colonial City not only historical but also cultural, affordable, convenient and cosmopolitan. 

And Santo Domingo has a palpable energy, from its colonial-style, multicolored buildings to art galleries, museums, cafes, bookstores and nightlife.

The city increased its tourist arrivals by 64% between 2010 and 2017, Maribel Villalona, general director of the Tourism Promotion Program Ciudad Colonial, said in a statement. In 2017, 668,117 tourists visited the capital. The goal is to reach 10 million tourists by 2022.

The plan covers communication, promotion, branding and marketing that encourages tourists to acquire combined packages and multi-destination experiences.

High-end hotel brand Yoo is expected to open in Santo Domingo in 2019, making it the city's first five-star hotel.

As for the rest of the country, the Dominican Republic welcomed 12 properties to its portfolio this year, reaching a total of 77,259 rooms. Of note this year was the TRS Hotel Cap Cana, an adults-only resort by Palladium Hotel Group, which opened Nov. 1. 

This month Club Med opened sales for the Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda, a $100 million project that will open in December 2019 in Miches on the island's northeast coast. The 93-acre resort will be the first full Exclusive Collection resort in the Americas and will act as the flagship of the region. The resort will be comprised of four boutique villages, each with its own environment, activities and accommodations. 

Also this month a development partnership was announced for another project in Miches, the Tropicalia, which is expected to open in 2021. The $258 million resort is expected to create 1,800 jobs during construction and 500 jobs during operations. 

The Miches region is known for its natural beauty, and so the resort aims to be a low-impact, low-density destination with 169 rooms and 24 beachfront residences. It plans to source up to 70% of its food from the island; it also seeks to be be the country's first EDGE-certified construction, which is a building accreditation that delivers a minimum 20% reduction in water and energy use.

In Punta Cana, Palace Resorts recently acquired land to construct a 1,500-room Palace-branded hotel, expected to open in three years. 

Cruise Developments

An $80 million cruise port is planned for Puerto Plata. The development will provide access to the city's colonial zone and will feature an ecopark, water slides, wildlife encounters, dining, shopping and more. It is expected to be open by 2020. 

Airlift

Beginning in June, Southwest Airlines will launch a route to Punta Cana from Houston's Hobby Airport. The flights will operate on Saturdays through the summer.

Frontier Airlines announced plans to offer nonstop service to Punta Cana from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport in 2019. The route will resume in January and will operate on Fridays. Also starting in January, Frontier will offer nonstop service three times weekly from Cleveland Airport to Punta Cana.

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