Just How Hot Is Dominican Tourism? – Part 1

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A couple strolls along the beach at Chic Punta Cana. (Photo credit: Ed Wetschler)
A couple strolls along the beach at Chic Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. (Photo credit: Ed Wetschler)

Here’s the buzz from DATE, the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange:

  • Over the past half dozen or so years, the Dominican Republic’s tourism has grown at an annual rate that approaches 6 percent, thus dwarfing the rate for the Caribbean as a whole. And that is no mere feat, because the Caribbean’s recent growth rate has been the fastest of any region in the world.
  • Dominican tourism authorities expect a 7 percent growth rate in 2016 for a total of six million international visitors.
  • Of those six million, figure two million are from the United States plus a sizable contingent from Canada, despite the latter’s relatively small population.
  • Cruise ship arrivals are up, too, in part because of Carnival’s new port at Puerto Plata. Expect last year’s total of 550,000 passengers to be easily beaten: In the first quarter, the D.R. welcomed 309,000 arrivals.
  • Punta Cana is still the 800-pound gorilla, with an airport that welcomes two-thirds of all international visitors to the Dominican Republic. As one official said, “If Punta Cana is doing well, the country is doing well.”
  • That said, visits to Puerto Plata, Samana, Santo Domingo, and the south coast are on the rise, as are new hotels, renovations of existing hotels, and new kinds of tourism. For example, 22 percent of visitors to the Dominican Republic visited protected environments last year.

 The bottom line for travel agents: a slew of new destinations (e.g. Juan Dolio, less than a half hour east of Santo Domingo’s airport, airlift, activities (e.g. eco- and cultural tourism), and hotels that will result in even more reasons to sell Dominican vacations. Those new hotels include all-inclusives (e.g. four AM Resorts brands, and the Nickelodeon Punta Cana), a 40-story Hard Rock Hotel in Santo Domingo, and world-class luxury resorts such as Amanera, Gansevoort, and a Four Seasons Resort that will be built on the Samana Peninsula. This all means more options from tour operators such as Delta Vacations, too: Stay tuned for a second update from DATE. For more information, visit drdate.net.