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Daily News - 13 February 2002

Innovation is key to success in tourism
The Minister of Tourism, in the keynote address during the National Tourism Awards ceremony last night, recognized that the authorities and the private sector have been conservative in their reaction to the present crisis in the industry. Rafael Subervi Bonilla urged the industry to learn from the past and find innovative ways to wade through the constant and often unfavorable changes in the world today. 
“This is the new economic and global world of today, these are the rules and we must be on top - assume them, manage them, and create every day new solutions to our challenges, strengthening our strategies, supporting the growth of our associations, strengthening the alliance between public and private sectors,” he said.
Subervi said his department has increased participation in world tourism events and promises to contribute US$1 for every half dollar the private sector spends on promotion. 
Subervi said his department has ordered a diagnosis of the current situation in each DR tourism destination as well as an inventory of work that needs to be done in order of priority. The idea, he said, is to rationalize the public investment in these areas so the President doesn’t get petitions every time he visits these areas. 
Subervi said, “The substantial improvement of the environs of the tourism areas will make it more possible for the tourist to visit these communities and come in contact with the Dominicans on the street,” said Subervi. “The more they get to know us, the more they will come to love us, but that contact has to be a positive experience, and for that we need to change these areas to be able to foster the social, economic and cultural interaction of the tourists with these communities.” 
Subervi said the biggest challenge of his department is to create a national awareness of the importance of tourism among the population and within government. 

Ministry of Tourism annual awards 
The Tourism Ministry announced the annual awards for performance during an event held last night at the V Centenario Hotel. Felix Felipe and Fernando Gomez of the Barcelo hotel chain were honored as the hoteliers of the year. Also honored were the restaurateur of the year, travel agent of the year, tour operator of the year, and airlines that transported the most passengers. The migration inspector and customs inspector of the year were also honored.
The Ministry this year granted special awards to those considered to be pioneers in the development of the nation’s tourism destinations.

Pioneers in tourism development:
Julio Schiffino, Barahona
Frank Rainieri, Serge Trigano, Punta Cana
Sebastian Barcelo, Bavaro
Santiago Ramos, Boca Chica
Manuel Arturo Peña, Portillo
Ettore Colussi, Bayahibe
Omar Bros, Punta Rucia
Orlando Alvarado, Rio San Juan
Pablo Piñeyro, Playa Magante (Bahia Principe)
Manuel Henriquez Reyes (Pinar Dorado)
Jose Angel Rodriguez (Jarabacoa)
Anselmo Paulino (Playa Dorada) 

Posthumous awards:
Isidoro and Blanca Rainieri, Puerto Plata, Santiago – Gran Hotel del Comercio
Alvaro Carta, La Romana hotel development, Casa de Campo
Dino Riggio, Santiago, Hotel Mercedes
Jose Antonio Jimenez, Juan Dolio, Playa Real resort
Ernesto Benitez, Santo Domingo, Hotel Fausto
Manuel Ramon Viñas, Cabarete, Cabañas Sol y Mar 

Association awards: 
Tour Operator of the Year: Linette Arbaje (Arbaje Tours)
Most passengers transported from Las Americas, La Romana and Puerto Plata international airports: American Airlines
Most passengers transported from Punta Cana international airport: Condor. 
Migration inspector of the year: Belkis Mateo
Customs inspector of the year: Pedro Balcacer
Hotelier of the Year: Felix Felipe, Fernando Gomez, Barcelo
Tourist Guide of the Year: Fabio Garcia Lopez
Tourism Police Officer of the Year: Lieutenant Colonel Minoro Matsunaga
Travel Agent of the Year: Evelyn Vicente
Restaurateur of the Year: Elizabeth Schecker de Arias, Scherezade Restaurant
Travel Writer of the Year: Yaniris Felipe, Listin Diario 

Grand Tourism Prize Winners: 
Luis Augusto Caminero, Bohio Magazine, travel writing 
Victor Mendez Capellan, Vimenca travel agency
Jose Manuel Lovaton, hotelier, Hotel Embajador 
Angel Miolan and Pedro Morales Troncoso, former tourism directors
Andres Zapata Moreno, Great Alexander Liburd, Julio Manuel Diaz Valdez and Vinicio Garcia Sala, taxi drivers
Cesar Namnum and Ana Green, tour guides 
Noel Valette, jewelry and gift shop entrepreneur 
Fidelina Pimentel and Rosalinda Thomas, tour operators

Posthumous awards were made to: 
Alejandro (Candito) Alma (Hotel Comercial)
Marito Bonetti (Hotel Naco)
Danilo Vicioso (The Santo Domingo News). 

In the morning, President Hipolito Mejia received those honored at the National Palace and highlighted the vision of those honored and everyone’s right to dream. 

The Santo Domingo News founder is honored
The Ministry of Tourism honored the late Danilo Vicioso, founder of The Santo Domingo News, yesterday with a National Tourism Award. The English language newspaper of the Dominican Republic circulated in its weekly format from 1971 through 1997. Vicioso, who died in a car crash in 1983, was one of the most enthusiastic early visionaries of the industry at a time when there were less than 5,000 hotel rooms in the country. Today there are over 50,000 hotel rooms. 
His daughter, Dolores Vicioso, founder and editor of dr1.com, the online English news service that evolved from The Santo Domingo News in 1996, received the award from Minister of Tourism Rafael Subervi Bonilla and President Hipolito Mejia last night at the event held at the V Centenario Inter Continental Hotel. 
The National Tourism Award is the most prestigious award granted by the tourism sector in the DR. 
In an unprecedented decision, the Ministry chose to grant 17 national tourism awards this year honoring outstanding leadership in the sector. “These are men and women who have been an example to our society,” Subervi said upon announcing the awards.

New tourist card entry
President Hipolito Mejia issued a decree yesterday that authorizes citizens from Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to enter the DR by purchasing a US$10 tourist card. These nationals previously required a tourist visa. 

Power Superintendent answers AES Ede Este
The Superintendent of Power has responded to a letter from AES Ede Este regarding the company’s decision to increase power outages in neighborhoods with a majority of illegal connections starting 15 February. Superintendent Julio Cross said that decision would violate the Madrid Agreement. 
AES says it loses US$37.5 million a month by delivering power to the poor neighborhoods. But Cross reminded the companies that they knew of the situation and agreed to absorb losses for the first three years after privatization of the power distribution system. 
Cross also criticized that the letter addressed to the Superintendency had been leaked to the press prior to it being studied by his department.

Two more bridges over Ozama River?
The Dominican government announced the construction of two more bridges over the Ozama River, as reported in El Caribe newspaper. A start date has not been given, though. A bridge parallel to the Francisco del Rosario Sanchez (Puente de la 17) Bridge will cost RD$2.4 billion. 
The other new bridge will connect the west bank of the city to the Sans Souci area on the east bank at a cost of RD$1.4 billion. 
The government recently completed the construction of the Juan Bosch Bridge at a cost of RD$600 million.

More helicopters for the Army?
Diario Libre’s front page story says the Presidency is considering buying two more helicopters for the army. Last year, Congress passed two loans for the purchase of 11 used helicopters for the army. The newspaper points out that the purchases are being considered at a time when the government says it does not have funds to increase teachers’ wages.

Compensating for the floating peso
The Monetary Board has authorized the Central Bank to issue RD$1 billion in Treasury Certificates. The idea is to reduce the amount of money in circulation, which grew 35% in 2001. Diario Libre says this growth was primarily due to the Dominican government borrowing from local commercial banks. Analysts months ago warned that the borrowing would have negative consequences. Already, bank interest rates are showing an upward trend, which will negatively impact production and increase costs to consumers. 
The new treasury certificates will be issued for 15-, 30- and 60-day terms at market rates. The Central Bank has placed US$110 million since the start of the year to try to slow down the devaluation of the peso, after it was allowed to float. 
Economists say the Dominican peso was overvalued and is now adjusting to its true market value. The Central Bank had maintained the dollar at under RD$17 for several years. The US dollar is now selling for more than RD$18.

Slums encroaching on Zoo
Diario Libre reports that slums are encroaching on the National Zoo. The Zoo is adjacent to one of the most densely populated slums in Santo Domingo. The newspaper says area residents enter the park grounds to steal eggs from the geese and ducks that walk freely through the park. The newspaper says only one guard patrols the many kilometers of the park. A new barrio, El Fondo del Aguacate has sprung up on the outer border of the park to the indifference of the government, denounces the newspaper article. 

Morning-after pill controversy
The Dominican Pro Family Welfare Association (Profamilia) and the Dominican Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology deny that the so-called morning-after pills are abortive. They replied to the Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, who criticized the prescription of the pills. Both associations endorse increased availability of morning-after pills in the hopes it will prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The DR has a high rate of teenage pregnancies.
Both organizations said the pill is endorsed by the World Health Organization. WHO research shows it has a 75% success rate in preventing pregnancy. The pill works up to 72 hours after sex but is 50% more effective if taken within 12 hours of having unprotected sex. 
The organizations said they would continue to defend contraception as the best way to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and to deal with the consequences of rape and failures in traditional birth control methods.

Tita Hasbun explains dress label incident
Tita Hasbun, a fashion TV journalist, explained to the Listin Diario her version of what happened regarding the incident between her and first Lady Rosa Gomez at the Casandra Awards. Hasbun said that as part of the pre-Casandra Awards coverage for Channel 5, she was interviewing those arriving at the National Theater and asking them who designed their evening gowns. 
When she asked President Hipolito Mejia how he was dressed, he responded, “I dress of Hipolito.” 
When she then asked the First Lady if she was wearing an Oscar de la Renta design, the First Lady responded: “No, my child, I am wearing a model by a Gurabo designer.” Gurabo is the suburb on the outskirts of Santiago where the couple lived for many years. 
Hasbun then asked her for the name of the dressmaker, and the First Lady said that she could not recall but she could check the label.
Hasbun stresses that the First Lady herself told her to do so. 
“It was in a playful way, as they have always inclined towards a humble and simple image, and so I without any bad intention went ahead to check out the label, playing along.”
The gesture was much frowned upon. TV cameras showed the First Lady did not appreciate it, either. 

Dominican becomes first Latino general manager
Omar Minaya, the talented and highly respected Senior Associate General Manager
for the New York Mets, became baseball’s first Latino general manager yesterday. Minaya would be the only Latino top executive among all 30 teams in Major League Baseball. Minaya accepted the challenge to manage the Montreal Expos, after Major League Baseball took the unprecedented step of acquiring the team. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was named the manager. This could end up being a one-year job because the Expos could be eliminated after the 2003 season as part of Major League owners’ plans to contract teams. For more information, see the Major League Baseball web site.
Working as a professional scout for the Texas Rangers, Minaya is credited with having recruited 16-year-old Sammy Sosa back in 1985 for US$3,500.
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