DR1 Travel News - 24 April 2018


May 3, 2000
Central Americans gather for tourism strategic planning
Colonial City gets over half a million visitors in 2017
Dominican tourism continues to thrive
Online flight plan filing is expected to boost small plane tourism to DR

Central Americans gather for tourism strategic planning
The Central American Tourism Council (CCT) will be meeting in Santo Domingo from 27 through 30 April 2018. Also meeting in Santo Domingo are the national authorities for the Central American Integration System (SICA) and the board of the Central American Tourism Promotion Agency. “This is a transcendent event for the country given that the two regional organizations have convened meetings in the first capital city in the Americas,” commented Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia. The event is taking place at the Hotel Intercontinental Real on Av. Winston Churchill.

Keynote speeches by Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García and Rodrigo Rafael Baez Rodríguez, secretary for tourism integration for SICA, will be on Saturday, 28 April 2018.

Tourism ministers coming for the meeting are: Emilio Silvestri Thompson, Honduras; José Manuel Heredia Jr., Belize; Pedro Pablo Duchez, for the Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo (INGUAT) of Guatemala; Edna Carolina Cerna for the Instituto Salvadoreño de Turismo (ISTU) of El Salvador. Also, Gustavo Him, manager of the Autoridad de Turismo de Panamá (ATP); Anasha Campbell, co-director of the Instituto Nicaragüense de Turismo (INTUR) and Roberto Arce Garita, representing the tourism minister of Costa Rica.

Colonial City gets over half a million visitors in 2017
Maribel Villalona, general coordinator for improvements in the historic center of Santo Domingo, the Colonial City, announced that an estimated 682,000 visitors toured the Colonial City in 2017. Speaking during the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE), Villalona says that over the period 2010 to 2017 visits to the Colonial City have increased 64%.

Villalona highlighted that the number of businesses in the Colonial City has almost doubled. Villalona said around 500 new businesses have opened since the government began the US$31.5 million renovation of the historic area.

"The tourists visiting the Colonial City today will find a historic city full of life, with safe public spaces accessible complemented by an innovative video surveillance system, a renewed urban lighting system and around 4 kilometers of streets ideal for photographers who want to capture the vibrant, 500 year history of Santo Domingo," said Villalona.

Dominican tourism continues to thrive
At this year’s Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) conference tourism officials announced several developments for the future of the country. Fausto Fernandez, Deputy Minister of Tourism for International Cooperation, opened the event with several updates about Dominican Republic’s overall tourism health and news in each major sector within the country, the Ministry of Tourism reported.

There has been a 3.9% increase in 2017 for overall tourism to the country. This surpasses the 1.7% growth for the Caribbean, which received a total of 30.1 million visitors in 2017. Dominican Republic accounted for 21% of all Caribbean travel with 6,187,542 million tourists. The United States remains the largest source market for Dominican tourism with 2,073,963 million visitors in 2017, and Canada followed with 837,000.

The first quarter of 2018 has reported stronger than ever numbers with a 7.7% growth in the first quarter that is one of the highest year-on-year growths on record.
Dominican Republic’s hotel occupancy rate for 2017 was equally above average at 77%. Properties in Punta Cana-Bávaro reported 82.8% occupancy, Romana-Bayahibe 82%, and Boca Chica-Juan Dolio 71.4%, followed by Samaná 67.6%, Santo Domingo 62.4%, and Santiago 56.9%.

According to Fernandez, this is in large part to the new hotel rooms that became available in 2017, bringing the existing number of rooms to 77,259. The growth does not stop there. Dominican Republic will add 15,000 new rooms and update 6,000 existing rooms in 2018.

Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) continues to be the main point of entry into Dominican Republic with 3,643,488 international tourists received in 2017. This is followed by Santo Domingo’s Las Americas Airport (SDQ) with 1,348,014; Santiago’s Cibao International Airport (STI) with 548,081 and Puerto Plata’s Gregorio Luperón International Airport (POP) following closely with 472,705.

Arrivals to the DR by cruise ships increased by 37% in 2017 compared to 2016, representing over 1.2 million visitors. Since Amber Cove’s inauguration in Maimón, 15 minutes south of the city of Puerto Plata, an average of 5,000 cruise visitors arrive weekly to the area. The reconstruction of Puerto Plata city’s cruise port is expected to begin in 2018, increasing cruise ship visitations to the area.

Numbers show that tourists are continuing to look for vacation experiences beyond the beach and are showing greater interest in multi-destination travel – 80% of all visits to Dominican Republic’s protected areas are by foreigners, proving that visitors are increasingly looking to explore beyond their hotel. In 2017, Saona Island welcomed 700,000 visitors as part of day-trips from resorts in Punta Cana, while the Colonial City saw an increase with 500,000 visitors.

This year’s DATE conference was held from April 11-13 at the Barceló Bávaro Convention Center in Punta Cana.

Online flight plan filing is expected to boost small plane tourism to DR
The Dominican Republic becomes the first Caribbean nation to fully accept electronically-submitted flight plans for departing flights. The new system is currently in place at Las Americas International Airport, Gregorio Luperon International Airport, and Cibao International Airport.

Alejandro Herrera, director of the Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation (IDAC) and Kennedy Wilson, president of FltPlan.com agreed when meeting on 13 April at the 2018 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida to fully implement the facility at the country’s five remaining airports by the end of April 2018. These are the Punta Cana International Airport, the La Romana International Airport, the northern Santo Domingo La Isabela International Airport, Samana’s El Catey International Airport and Barahona’s Maria Montez International Airport.

“Electronic flight planning will save time, improve efficiency, and ensure that flight plans comply with Dominican filing requirements,” said Ken Wilson, president of FltPlan.com. “We are excited about this partnership with IDAC and thank Jim Parker of Caribbean Flying Adventures for facilitating this venture. I believe this will serve as a template for other countries in the Caribbean, Central, and South America looking to modernize their flight planning systems.”

FltPlan was established in 1991 and has grown into the largest flight planning company in North America. FltPlan’s 165,000-plus active, registered users file more than 55% of all N#-registered flight plans. The FltPlan system includes free, web-based flight planning and filing integrated with the free FltPlan Go mobile app for iOS, Android and Windows devices, along with a full range of premium services including SMS, Pre-Departure Clearances (PDCs), eAPIS and APIS for Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean, Premium Flight Tracking, a DCM Call Sign Program, Handling Services, and Runway Analysis. Recent product introductions include FltPlan Manager and FltLogic flight scheduling.

There are expectations that the move will enable the Dominican Republic to receive a large part of the more than 40,000 private flights made annually from the United States to Latin America. Herrera explained that not only would these private planes land at the eight international airports in the country, they would also land at the different aerodromes leading to a considerable increase in private tourism.

Present at the signing were also the president of the Civil Aviation Board (JAC), Luis Ernesto Camilo, Marino Collante, director of the Airport Authority, General Aracelis Castillo de la Cruz, director of the Specialized Corps of Airport Security (CESAC), Cheo Zorrilla, deputy director of IDAC and Doctor José Valdez, legal consultant.