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January 26, 2016
  • New York Times praises visiting Santo Domingo
  • Regional taskforce for tourism and security
  • Government ready to announce Pedernales development plan
  • Punta Cana leads in tourist spending
  • Rally Frontera announced for February
New York Times praises visiting Santo Domingo
Writing for The New York Times, Nell McShane Wolfhart discovers in 36 hours a new Santo Domingo and heartily recommends it to future visitors in a report in The New York Times on Monday, 21 January 2016. Calling Santo Domingo "a city that deserves more attention than it gets," the writer highlights the night life, restaurants and welcoming attitude of the capitalenos (city residents), in addition to the "stunning centuries-old buildings and trendy boutiques of the Zona Colonial."
Regional taskforce for tourism and security
Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia was in Madrid for the FITUR tourism trade fair where he participated in the announcement of a new initiative of the ministers of tourism of Central America and the Dominican Republic, supported by UNWTO and UNODC, for the creating of a regional taskforce to engage tourism stakeholders and security forces.
The announcement was made following the gathering in Madrid of ministers of tourism from 86 countries to discuss the development of closer collaboration mechanisms between tourism and security administrations to ensure a safe, secure and seamless travel framework.
Participants called for the integration of tourism in international and national emergency systems and highlighted the role of public-private sector cooperation, as well as the importance of strong communications and media partnerships.
"The role of tourism is still underestimated and the integration of travel and tourism into national emergency structures and procedures often happens only after a major incident has taken place. Today we are here to discuss how security issues are impacting our sector and what can be done to ensure we continue to advance towards safe, secure and seamless travel." said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai
"Only by working together can we increase the resiliency of the tourism sector, reduce the risk of damage and loss, and accelerate recovery - and ultimately ensure the sustained growth of our sector and its contribution to economic growth, job creation and development", he added.
"This meeting addresses a critical question facing us today - namely, how can we harness and expand the benefits of tourism, while safeguarding our societies?" said Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), who also highlighted the need for public-private sector cooperation. "While destinations are under pressure to ensure tourist safety and security, it is essential that both inbound and outbound states cooperate and put the necessary measures in place to ensure the safety of travelers, including the strengthening public-private partnerships".
Ignacio Ibanez, Secretary of State for Cooperation of Spain, highlighted the role of tourism as an economic driver and a tool for development but also as an instrument of better understanding among cultures. "Tourism builds understanding between people of different cultures and is thus a factor driving security at the global level" he said.
Government ready to announce Pedernales development plan
Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia announced in Madrid that the master plan for development of tourism in the southwestern region has been finalized. As reported in El Caribe and El Dinero, it is imminent it will be announced. The plan will provide guidelines for investment in the region. Garcia said that the plan calls for a higher level of development in the area than previously carried out in the country. "Pedernales has waited for a long time, but the wait will be worth it," commented Garcia. The plan proposes low density construction of hotels and real estate developments. It calls for development in Pedernales, Enriquillo, Barahona, Independencia and Bahoruco along the border with Haiti.
"Most of the tourists who visit come looking for sun and beach, and the beaches of Pedernales are spectacular. We are going to prove that the wait was worth it for Pedernales," he said.
Garcia said studies have proven that poverty is best combatted with the development of tourism in the border region with Haiti. He said that Bahia de las Aguilas beach areas will remain untouchable with the beach of public use for foreigners and Dominicans. He said a management plan is being worked on in coordination with the Ministry of Environment.
He highlighted that 55% of the southwestern region is protected area with little rain fall.
Punta Cana leads in tourist spending
Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia ensured when speaking in Madrid, Spain on occasion of the FITUR tourism fair that Spanish travel to the DR is on an upward trend, displacing Russia. Spain is now the third most important in Europe, behind France and Germany. Spanish travel was up 15.5% in 2015.
Overall, travel from South America was up 25%, from the United States 12%, from Europe 7.3% and from Canada 5.4% in 2015.
Garcia announced the signing of new cooperation agreements with tour operators and Iberia airline to increase visitations.
He highlighted that 2015 had been an extraordinary year for the Dominican Republic in visitations were 5.6 million, up 8.9% compared to 2014. Of the increase in tourist arrivals, 80.3% were foreigners and 19.7% non-resident Dominicans. He said that by 2017, the country should receive upwards of six million visitors. In tourism receipts, he said estimates are of a record number of US$6 billion, making the sector the most important for Dominican macroeconomic stability. He mentioned the opening of an additional 4,500 hotel rooms, the new Carnival cruise ship terminal in Puerto Plata.
Among the announcement is the Spanish Grupo Fierro purchased one of the Barcelo Group hotels to invest US$27 million in the installation adding 160 rooms to increase this from 740 to 900 rooms.
Moon Palace Group of Mexico announced the construction of a 1,500 room hotel in Uvero Alto at a US$450 million investment. Likewise, Gran Paradise in Samana will build 168 rooms and turn the hotel into a five star establishment.
Rally Frontera announced for February
The 16th Rally Frontera 4x4, the main Dominican off-road competition, is announced for 25-28 February 2016 with the backing of the Ministry of Defense and the Quisqueya Auto Club. Some 600 participants are expected this year, up from 530 last year. This is an opportunity to tour off-the-beaten track areas with the support of the Ministry of Defense and experts in off-road travel.
Competitors will gather in Santo Domingo on Thursday, 25 January at the Ministry of Defense to leave to Mao, Valverde. The actual competition starts on Friday, 26 January at 6am onto Hondo Valle, passing Loma de Saba, Elias Pina, El Calimete, Rio Limpio. The next day, the route heads to Duverge, La Descubierta, Aguacate, El Hoyo de Pelempito, with a swim at Playa Cabo Rojo.
Participants will compete in a tour that takes participants through a good part of the Dominican border with Haiti. Organizers Colonels Carlos Chris and Frontal Carran say that more than 95% of the trek will be through mountain zones and crossing over rivers.
There are two categories: Tourism and Professionals with difficulties according to these.

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