Caribbean Tennis Club played at Parque del Este
Singapore Airlines could start flights to DR
Official holidays and long weekends in 2017
DR to benefit from multi-stop Chinese travelers

Caribbean Tennis Club played at Parque del Este
Emerging tennis players from five continents are competing in the Caribbean Cup at the Parque del Este in Santo Domingo East. The Futures F3 “Caribbean Cup” is taking place at the eastern Santo Domingo tennis center from 12-19 December 2016. Eighty emerging tennis professionals from around the world are playing in the tournament, which has US$10,000 in prize money. The event is backed by the International Tennis Federation.
The Dominican Republic is represented by José Olivares, Nick Hardt, Jesús Félix, Peter Bertrán and William Kirkman.

Tennis players from countries including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, the United States and Zimbabwe are also participating in the Caribbean Cup.

The favorite to win the tournament is Sam Barry from Ireland, ranked 288th in the world and the only participating player in the top 300 ATP ranking.

The qualifying rounds will be played on 12 and 13 December with 64 players of which eight will qualify for a second round in which 32 players will take part starting on Monday 14 December through Saturday, 19 December. The finals will be held on 19 December.*

Matches will be in doubles and singles. The winners of the doubles and singles will receive 18 points towards their ATP ranking.

Singapore Airlines could start flights to DR
During the ninth International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation Event (ICAN2016) held in Nassau in the Bahamas from 5 to 9 December 2016, Civil Aviation Board (JAC) president Luis Ernesto Camilo announced that 10 aviation agreements were negotiated that will result in improved air services to the DR from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

The agreements were signed with the Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark and Norway in Europe, Kuwait and Singapore in Asia, New Zealand in Oceania, and Nicaragua, Jamaica and Guyana in the Americas.

With Singapore, the bilateral agreement allows for the immediate start of flights to the Dominican Republic by the airlines Singapore Airlines, Jetstar Air Asia, Tigerair, Scoot, *SilkAir and Singapore Airline Cargo.

In the case of New Zealand, code-sharing agreements will enable the testing and opening of new markets before starting regular flights in the medium term.

With Kuwait, the airlines Kuwait Airway, Jazeera Airways, Kuwait National Airways and Load Air International Cargo were authorized for immediate start of flights.

Camilo said that the Dominican Republic is highly regarded internationally because of its long-standing open skies policy and its social and economic stability.

“These agreements establish a regulatory framework in aviation matters for the signatories that will translate immediately in more aviation connectivity for our country and a push for tourism, investments and international commerce,” said Camilo.

ICAN is the leading central meeting place used by governments and aviation companies to conduct multiple bilateral, regional or plurilateral air services negotiations or consultations.

Official holidays and long weekends in 2017
With the traditional New Year’s Day holiday falling on a Sunday, the bad news is that it won’t make for a long weekend, and Monday, 2 January 2017 is a working day. The Ministry of Labor, nevertheless, says that while Three Kings Day, 6 January falls on Friday and will be a working day; the official holiday will be Monday, 9 January. This means that for anyone who is able to take the 6th off, the holidays will last through Tuesday, 10 January.

The Ministry of Labor confirms that Our Lady of Altagracia Day, commemorating the religious protector of the Dominican people, will be celebrated on Saturday, 21 January 2016. However, Duarte Day, honoring the founding father of Dominican nationhood, falls on a Thursday, and will thus be celebrated on Monday, 30 January.

The good news is that Independence Day in 2017 falls on a Monday, so 27 February will make for a long weekend starting on Friday, 24 February.

This year, Good Friday falls on 14 April and is a holiday. Most Dominicans take time off from the previous day, creating another long weekend.

Next in the list of holidays is Labor Day, to be celebrated on Monday, 1 May – another long weekend.

Corpus Christi, another Roman Catholic holiday, will be celebrated on Thursday, 15 June. Many are expected to make it another long weekend.

The Ministry of Labor says that 16 August will be a holiday to be celebrated on that same date that in 2017 falls on a Wednesday.

The bad news is that Mercedes Day, the day that honors Our Lady of Mercy, the patron of the Dominican Republic, falls on a Sunday, 24 September.

But then, Constitution Day, 6 November falls on a Monday, creating another long weekend.

The next official holiday is Christmas Day, which in 2017 falls on a Monday, 25 December.

DR to benefit from multi-stop Chinese travelers
In his 12 December 2016 “The View from Europe” overview of China and tourism in the Caribbean, David Jessop of the London-based Caribbean Council observes that Chinese actions are underway so that the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic attract more of Chinese travelers. According to data, 117 million outbound tourists are spending about US$498 billion overseas; numbers they forecast to double by 2020.

Making the point that air-lift is the main obstacle to Chinese travel to the Caribbean, Jessop comments that Air China flights from China to Houston or New York are already in place, but the reality is that ongoing flight to Caribbean destination add up to a 20-hour flight.

That is where multi-destination stops become more attractive, he observes. He mentions Chinese travelers already have the option of traveling from Beijing to Montreal and then continuing on to Havana. From there, Jamaica, Mexico and Dominican Republic tourism ministries are looking to combine a multi-destination package with possibly a single-visa arrangement for the short term to tap into the Chinese travel market.

Jessop refers those interested in the relationships between China and the Caribbean to review “China’s Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean ” for guidelines on establishing an agenda for developing a bilateral dialogue with Beijing.

Regarding tourism in the region, the document states:
China will encourage tourism authorities and enterprises on both sides to introduce tourism resources and products to each other and expand tourism cooperation. China will explore and issue more facilitation policies to promote two-way tourism, and support the negotiation for more direct flights between aviation authorities of the two sides. China will strengthen dialogue and cooperation with consumer protection departments in Latin American and Caribbean countries, with priority given to the protection of consumer rights of international travelers.

Jessop also encourages the Caribbean masterminds to look into the potential for encouraging the development of cruise industry for the medium term. He mentions that China has been gradually developing a cruise industry in the Pacific, and plans to build its own cruise ships, offering perhaps the longer-term possibility for home-porting Chinese vessels for Chinese visitors out of Cuba or Jamaica.

He writes that although embryonic, Chinese cruising potentially offers a practical way of bringing Chinese visitors to the region in large numbers, perhaps initially out of Miami on existing services into the region, in ways that circumvent or address other challenges that face the region when it comes to meeting their needs.

Caribbean nations need to have a better understanding of what Chinese travelers want. As the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) points out in its recent report “Chinese Rise in the Caribbean - What Does It Mean for Caribbean Stakeholders”, for the Caribbean to capture more of the Chinese market, significant changes in approach are required. They include streamlined or visa exemptions for Chinese nationals, more five-star hotel properties, better personal and property security, offerings of Chinese cuisine, the hiring of Mandarin and Cantonese speakers as staff and as tour operators, raising awareness within the industry about Chinese cultural norms, developing marketing materials and signage in Mandarin, and offering more price-competitive shopping experiences.

Jessop mentions the niche opportunities that can be developed, such as gambling, music, and horse racing. He observes that China is one of the largest horse race betting markets in the world, with fortunes being spent on racing and related gambling.

Read The View from Europe article and the China Policy Paper at: