Hotel School of Avignon behind new hotel and gastronomy school in Higuey
Canadians visiting the DR by droves
JetBlue celebrates Independence Day at Las Americas International
Tigua Aerotours flights from STI to PUJ for US$95

Hotel School of Avignon behind the new hotel and gastronomy school in Higuey
Expect French culinary influence soon to be felt soon in Punta Cana resorts. The Hotel School of Avignon, the prestigious French culinary institute, is behind the opening of a new gastronomy training center in Higuey.

The Escuela de Hotelería, Gastronomía y Pastelería was inaugurated in the city center of Higuey at the former location of the government-owned Hotel El Naranjo. President Danilo Medina was there for the formal inauguration on 22 February 2018. The school has capacity to graduate 1,800 technicians every year.

The school is operated by the National Institute for Professional and Technical Training (Infotep), the vocational training center funded by the Dominican government and employees. The school was co-financed by the French Development Agency (AFD) of the government of France and is supported by the prestigious French hospitality school, the Hotel School of Avignon.

The school seeks to contribute to the training of hotel staff for the hotel industry in the nearby Punta Cana area. Higuey is a bed city for large numbers of staff that works in the Punta Cana area resorts.

The school mostly will serve students from Higuey interested in a career in the hospitality industry. But it has 20 rooms for students from the Dominican Republic and abroad to come for the excellent instruction there offered. Rafael Ovalles, director of Infotep, said during the opening that the school expects to attract Caribbean and Central American students.

Francisco Castillo (Paco), an experienced hotelier best known for his long years with the Paradisus (Sol Meliá) chain and a Dominican Hotelier of the Year, is in charge of the operation.

There are programs in general gastronomy, pastry, hotel front desk, housekeeping and more. The methodology includes continuous training in centers, dual training, technical teacher training, graduate training, certification by competence and qualification, complementation and occupational validation. The center will also offer technical assistance to tourism and hotel companies to improve their productivity, and the management of human resources.

The hotel and gastronomy school has five buildings in an area of 14,500 square meters. The main building is for classrooms, a lab for front desk instruction and practice, and admission and management areas. The second floor has 20 rooms for lodging of students from around the country and abroad and others for hotel practices. The other buildings have been fitted for gastronomy, pastry, breadmaking, bar and restaurant workshops, sensorial analysis and a multiuse.

Monsignor Nicanor Peña Rodríguez, bishop for the diocese of La Altagracia, blessed the new installations. Also attending were Labor Minister José Ramón Fadul; legal advisor to the President Flavio Darío Espinal; Luisa Fernández, director of the National Council of Free Zones; La Altagracia Senator Amable Aristy Castro; La Altagracia governor Ramón Guilamo, and Higuey Mayor Karina Aristy. Also Frank Rainieri, president of the Puntacana Group; Joel Santos, president of the National Hotel & Tourism Association; and Gregory Dilone, of the French Development Agency.

Canadians visiting the DR in droves
The Dominican Republic is the leading destination in the Caribbean for sun seeking tourists from Canada – second only to Mexico overall. As reported, over 837,000 Canadians visited the Dominican Republic in 2017. Indeed, Canada was a major source for tourists well before the United States tourists also made the country their most popular Caribbean sun destination.

“The Dominican Republic is extremely proud to be the premier vacation destination in the Caribbean for Canadians,” says Cosette Garcia, director of the Tourism Office of the Dominican Republic in Montreal. “Our arrival numbers grew last year by 3.9% over 2016 with a difference of 65,265 additional Canadians and we anticipate an even better year in 2018,” she explains.

For many years, we have invested in infrastructure to maintain our excellent tourism product. Today we have new roads, expanded ports and improved air terminals. This investment has clearly paid off as Canadians continue to visit our country in growing numbers.”

With new hotel openings and increased room inventory, new flight routes to the country from Canadian cities and the extremely accessible cruise terminal, Amber Cover in Puerto Plata, the DR was seamlessly able to accommodate the influx of tourist arrivals in 2017. It has never been easier for Canadians to visit, highlights García.

She said visiting Canadians would find new developments in the historic area of Santo Domingo. “We have been restoring the Colonial City of Santo Domingo for a few years now and as that job nears completion, we look forward to welcoming more guests to the first and oldest city in the New World. Visitors can wander on the cobblestone street of Calle de las Damas, tour the house of the son of Christopher Columbus and visit The Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, the oldest cathedral in the Americas.”

According to the latest figures from the Central Bank, the arrival of tourists to the Dominican Republic increased by 3.9% in January, with the arrival of 566,797 non-residents overall.

The number of arrivals from North America continues to dominate with almost half of all tourist arrivals in January, 152,690 from the United States and 127,845 from Canada. The number of visitors from outside North America increased by 6% over the previous year.

Income from tourism increased by 6.8% to US$7,177.5 million in January this year.

JetBlue celebrates Independence Day at Las Americas International
JetBlue Airways, that has the largest number of flights to the Dominican Republic from the United States, decked out for carnival and in Dominican national colors to celebrate Independence Day, 27 February 2018, at the Las Americas International Airport. Passengers flying that day received special reminders of the national day.

Tigua Aerotours flights from STI to PUJ for US$95
Based in Santiago, Tigua Aerotours is offering new flights from Santiago to Punta Cana starting on 2 March 2018. The regularly scheduled flights will depart the Cibao International Airport in Santiago (STI) to Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) at 8am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flight time is around 1 hr and 25 minutes. Return trips are available on the same day, departing PUJ at 11am, with a flight time of 1 hr and 15 min and at the same price per person.

The cost of the flight is US$95 per person. Passengers are limited to 35lbs of luggage. In cases of bad weather, the flight may be delayed or cancelled, or landing at another airport. Flights are under visual meteorological conditions (or VMC). Pilots are not relying on instruments and rather need to have sufficient visibility to fly the aircraft maintaining visual separation from terrain and other aircraft.

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