Punta Cana on AAA’s top 10 destinations for US summer travel
Good weather is forecast for Easter Week holidays
Monitor whales with the new Samaná Whale Watcher app
First week in May: Bull run in El Seibo



Punta Cana on AAA’s top 10 destinations for US summer travel
Punta Cana, the popular east coast beach strip of the Dominican Republic, has again made the top 10 US travel destinations for AAA, as reported from their recent AAA Travel Survey. AAA stands for the American Automobile Association, Inc., and is a federation of affiliated automobile clubs that also provides travel services.

The list of summer destinations come from an analysis of AAA’s travel booking data for trips from 1 June to 15 August 2019.

Other destinations on the list are: Honolulu, Hawaii; Anchorage, Alaska; Seattle, Washington; Paris, France; Dublin, Ireland; Vancouver, Canada; Rome, Italy; London, Great Britain; and Orlando, Florida.

According to the most recent AAA Travel survey, nearly 100 million Americans – 4 in 10 US adults – are planning to take a family vacation in 2019, slightly more than last year. Spring and summer road trips will top many of these families’ vacation plans. Two-thirds of all family travelers (68%) will embark on a summer getaway, while just under half (45%) are making plans to travel as a family this spring.

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Good weather is forecast for Easter Week holidays
No troughs or thunderstorms are forecast for the Easter Week long weekend, from 19 to 21 April 2019. Schools have been out since 12 April and don’t resume until at least Monday, 22 April, making for the Dominican spring break.

Weather is expected to be ideal for those hitting the beaches and staying at resorts in beaches around the country. This means extra precautions must be taken to protect from sunburn.

The National Meteorological Office says forecasts call for stable weather due to a powerful high-pressure system over the northern Atlantic Ocean. It reports conditions are favorable for all water sports.

The good news is that the weather chills off at night, giving a respite from the heated noontime temperatures.

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Monitor whales with the new Samaná Whale Watcher app
The European Union and Germany’s development cooperation agency, GIZ, assisted the Center for the Conservation and Eco-Development of Samaná Bay (CEBSE) in the Dominican Republic with the creation of the Samaná Whale Watcher App. CEBSE says the app seeks to promote sustainable observation of the humpback whales in the Bay of Samaná and integrate the tourists in awareness-raising and creation of educated whale watchers.

The app enables tourists to become investigators for a day, sharing their photographs with scientists and researchers.

The app was made possible due to contributions by the program Biodiversidad y Negocios of the European Union delegation in the Dominican Republic, under Syenia Paulino, division director of GIZ.

The free app was launched on 12 April 2019, shortly after the end of the 2019 whale-watching season in Samaná Bay. The whaling season in Samaná starts 15 January and ends on 30 March every year.

The app incorporates tourists and participants in whale-watching tours in Samaná Bay in the scientific monitoring of the whales. It also provides access to information on the catalog of whales, guidelines for whale watching, and a list of the boats that are authorized to carry out whale watching trips. The app links to the GPS of smartphones to indicate the geographic location of each whale sighting, characteristics of the behavior of the whales, and makes it possible to share photographs of the whales in action with CEBSE (Centro para la Conservación y Ecodesarrollo de la Bahía de Samaná y su Entorno), the local conservation entity in charge of monitoring whales in Samaná Bay.

The app will also make it possible to learn about species outside of the humpback whales that may be present in Samaná. Patricia Lamelas, longtime executive director of CEBSE, says the app resolves the need to provide quality information to visitors and allows the approach to conservation and research from a very social perspective. The application also helps more people collaborate in the conservation of these animals and support the work of our institutions ", explained Lamelas during the presentation.

This mobile application is available for Android and iOS devices and was developed within the framework of the project "Biodiversity and Business in Central America and the Dominican Republic: Contribution of the Tourism Sector for the Restoration and Protection of Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity in the Caribbean Sea," of the European Union.

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First week in May: Bull run in El Seibo
The descendants of Spanish immigrants in the eastern province of El Seibo are continuing the bull running tradition. The El Seibo bull run today is also possible because nearby Central Romana lends their bulls to keep alive the tradition. The bull run is part of the patronal feasts for the province in May. The bulls are unharmed.

El Seibo historian and journalist Florentino Duran has been following the bull runs for years. He reports that during the first 10 days of May there will be six bull runs from 4 to 6pm as a warmup for the evening activities. The runs take place in the area known as Las Quinientas.

The runs are organized by the Hermandad de Fervorosos de la Santísima Cruz to honor the Virgen de la Santa Cruz, the patron saint of the city of El Seibo. It maintains the tradition of Spanish settlers originally from the Canary Islands (Santa Cruz de Tenerife) that has been going on for over 100 years. The Dominican government has declared the bull run as part of the cultural heritage of the Dominican Republic.

On the afternoons in early May, the practice is for the bull runners to match five or six bulls that are let go. These are the same bulls that work in the cane fields. The bull runners are naturals. They receive little if any training to run with the bulls and are paid RD$800-RD$2,000 to put on a show for the many bystanders. There is much spontaneity in the event. Some youths even jump into the ring to give the bulls a run of their own.

The bulls are not physically harmed, albeit they are subject to an intense 15 minutes of stressful running until they are returned to the stable by their professional caretakers.

El Seibo is about 130 km from Santo Domingo, 50 km from La Romana and 87km from Punta Cana, making for an easy half-day outing.

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