DR1 Travel News - 9 July 2019



More tourism projects on the way
Flight bookings and cancellations returning to normal
Nearly eight million travelers arrived in first half of the year
Two young adventurers show how exciting the DR can be

More tourism projects on the way
The Tourism Development Board (Confotur) of the Ministry of Tourism announced that eight tourism development projects, calling for an investment of US$467.5 million, were recently approved. They authorized 2,212 additional hotel rooms. Developments approved involve hotels, aparthotels, residences and condos in La Altagracia (Punta Cana) and El Seibo (Miches) in the east, Puerto Plata in the north, Samaná in the northeast, and Santo Domingo, the central capital city.

So far in 2019, Confotur has approved 33 tourism initiatives, an investment of US$2.86 billion, and 14,669 new accommodation units.

Investors come from Panama, the United States, Spain, Switzerland, Holland, France, Argentina and the Dominican Republic.

Among the larger projects approved by Confotur in 2019 are:
Perla del Sur in La Cienaga, Barahona with 955 rooms
Melia Caribe Tropical expansion with 1,056 rooms in Bavaro
Macao Alto Resort with 2,153 rooms in Macao, in northern Punta Cana
Hotel Finest Punta Cana with 455 rooms
Los Corales Blue Resort with 551 rooms
Others on the list of new developments are Club Med Miches, Azul Sensatori, Hyatt Cap Cana, Excellence El Carmen.


Flight bookings and cancellations returning to normal
The slump in air bookings and increases in flight cancellations to the Dominican Republic that coincided with media coverage of tourist deaths in the country appears to be reversing, according to ForwardKeys. From 1 June to 2 July, air bookings from the United States to the Dominican Republic for July and August had fallen by 84.4%, when compared to the equivalent period in 2018, ForwardKeys said. But now the publication reports that by 26 June, bookings were again exceeding cancellations.

FowardKeys also found wavering interest in the Caribbean destinations that seemed to be benefiting from the Dominican Republic's decline: the recent increases in air bookings to Jamaica, Bahamas and Aruba fell starting 26 June. Jamaica, for example, which had experienced a 54.3% year-over-year increase in bookings 17 to 25 June, was only up 13.4% from 26 June to 2 July. The Bahamas was up 45.3% 17-25 June but up 13.3% from 26 June to 2 July.


Nearly eight million travelers arrived in first half of the year
The Civil Aviation Board (JAC) has reported that 7.9 million passengers moved through the nation’s airports in the first six months of 2019. Luis Ernesto Camilo, director at JAC, told reporters that this is evidence that the recent anti-Dominican tourism campaign that kept negative news in social media and in newspapers and television in the United States, had not destroyed the Dominican appeal for foreigners. These arrivals have represented a 4.8% increase year to year. In March, there were 1.5 million passengers, also a substantial increase of 5% year to year. In June, nevertheless, travel slumped, with bookings and cancellations reacting to the negative press coverage.

Among the top five airlines servicing the Dominican Republic, four are from the United States: Jet Blue, American, Delta and United. Also noted by the JAC director was the fact that Punta Cana continues to be the busiest airport in the country, followed by Las Americas, Santiago, and Puerto Plata.


Cruise lines keep pouring tourists into Puerto Plata
With the arrival of 15 cruise ships in July, Puerto Plata continues to increase its tourism footprint in the Dominican Republic. Each of these cruise vessels, owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, who also own Amber Cove in the Maimon Bay, carries between 4,500 and 5,000 people. Data from the first third of the year shows that over 365,000 persons enjoyed some of Puerto Plata’s hospitality with the arrival of 88 cruise liners. Since opening in late 2017, more than 2.2 million tourists have arrived to Amber Cove.


Two young adventurers show how exciting the DR can be
Two young women, Keila Rodriguez and Alejandra Gil, recount the excursions they have had when traveling in their own Dominican Republic. Keila, who goes by the tag @theadrenalinetraveler and Alejandra who uses @alejateconale, report their travels to some truly interesting spots with varying degrees of difficulty of access.

Beginning their travels in Samaná, the pair reported on what they called the best zipline in the Caribbean, and follow that with a recommendation for the beach at El Valle and then the Lulu Falls. They also make reference to the visit by the humpbacked whales at the beginning of the year.

They then hiked to Fronton Beach where they discovered the only “via ferrata” in the country. This is a protected climbing route up geological structures, in this case cliffs, which can provide a 45-foot leap into the ocean below. This expedition has to be with a guide and organized well before making the trip. They do not recommend walking from Boca del Diablo without some security that should be arranged at the entrance o at the Police station in Las Galeras.

The adventurers then traveled to Montecristi and Puerto Plata on the north. There, they reference the well known Cayo Arena sand key near Punta Rucia. Then they are off to Cabrera, along the North Coast, where they recommend a trip with the children to the Catalina Swimming Pools. Then, a visit to the Cabrera Waterfalls (Saltadero de Cabrera) is described as a unique natural swimming spot.

In the East, there is Cap Cana’s Scape Park, which is highly recommended, especially the Blue Hole, which requires a bit of courage but visitors are rewarded with a dip into some of the clearest waters in the Caribbean.

A surprising spot found by the adventurers is the Magic Mushroom in Moca (el Hongo Magico) that requires a lot of hiking and rope descents. There is also the 45-foot jump at Elena’s Falls, accessible only by pick-up or 4 x 4 vehicle. They recommend an agency with guides and climbing equipment for repelling.

Finally, they mention one of the least known spots, the Cola de Pato, also in Moca, in the community of Juan Lopez, which also requires 4 x 4 to gain access.