DR's character assassination

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Oct 29, 2006
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I just returned from a 10 day visit to the north coast.
I stayed again at Riu Bachata in the town of Maimon, however I used this resort as a bed and breakfast, since I went out every day to explore other places. I visited the following:

Puerto Plata and many of the neighbourhoods (rich, middle class, poor and very poor)
Sosua, Cabarete, Maimon, Isabela, Punta Rusia and many, many more of the towns and villages in between.

I had discussions with everyone I came across (locals and visitors), regarding the behaviour and false information being provided by tour operators to tourists visiting the "all inclusive" resorts.
This false information: "it is dangerous to leave the resort without our guide" IS A LIE and MUST BE STOPPED.
It creates fear, it tells that all dominicans are either liers, thieves or criminals. It prevents that much needed dollars go into the local business and communities, and worse of all, it is a character assassination of the Dominican Republic and its beautiful people.
If this is not changed rapidly, it will obstruct and greatly delay all the efforts the current government is trying to do to improve the image of the country and the rightful place they deserve within the world community.

I personally experienced this BIG LIE, while visiting all kind of towns and local villages, walking the streets, talking to local businessmen, women and children, sharing family meals with them and "sobremesa tertulias".
It's possible that because I speak spanish, it's obviously easier to do all this; however, I will argue that language is not a barrier to communicate with dominicans, experience their big heart, smiles and their big, big sense of community life.
The poorer the town the more secured I felt. I wish we could say the same about other industrialized countries.

I'm beginning to feel that gated communities are not so bad after all, for they could be used to protect dominicans from some foreign residents and investors.

I live in New York, but I feel that it is my obligation, as well as that of any dominican, expat, foreign resident and aware visitor, to denounce unfair, unjust and illegal statements; which benefit a few at the expense of the defamation and degradation of an entire nation and that of others who, knowingly, remain silent.

Rafael Rothschild
 

Rocky

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It's a simple case of the tour reps and AI hotels not wanting the guests to go out by themselves, so as to sell them their package tours.
This is nothing new.
It's been going on as long as there have been AI resorts, and they do it in other countries too.
 

Camden Tom

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So true. To spend ones time at an AI is to waste the opportunity to experience the true flavor of a beautiful land and culture. It is a shame that such a huge amount of the tourist dollars never make it to the locals who could so desparately use it.
 

dms3611

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Jan 14, 2002
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Tour operators will never stop..........

........making these assertions. Liability issues in U.S., Europe, etc.. As long as these "warnings" are delivered, Tour companies have greatly reduced their liabliity to the client the moment someone decides to counter their advice and leave the compounds ("if" anything were ever to happen).

I will be shocked to ever see this "verbage" change.
 

PabloPaul

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Good post, as a visitor to Playa Dorada I experienced the very same thing. It is totally crazy that people do not think this won't harm their own country, or harm the place in which they do business. Most of these tourists to the AI resorts are already very small minded about leaving their gated confines, they really don't need anymore encouragement. Personally I always rent a car and go exploring by myself to see the country and the people who live there. Frankly, I could not think of anything more boring than staying at the resort.....after all, if you stay at the resort, you may as well not even leave your own country at all.
Go explore!
Don't be a wimp!
The world is waiting for you!
 
Sep 19, 2005
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OK as a guy who goes to the island quite often in the last 18 months.. and who does go to the AI on occassion, as well as non AI places to stay...Ill give my take.
This take is also considering the fact that I have family and friends who vacation in the DR and have for at least 5 years....

from the view of family and friends...they want the luxury island beach getaway... which does include trikets from the locals..even if they are 20 times what they should be... they want SOME from of culture experience...but not much.....and nothing that would hinder fun in the sun, eat all you want, drink all you want style vacationing.
They would heed the AI guides advice hook line and sinker.... and they probably will have the vacation they expect....it works out perfect for them even if they dont know what they missed.....truth is 99.9% of these people will rave about their good time , even missing all the things that would make the vacation a REAL experience....but you take one bad thing, and it can ruin the whole vacation.....like getting robbed....or in an auto accident.....outside the resort.....so I believe for the AI operators it behooves them to get repeat visitors to not know what they missed and NOT experience anything bad.......

for the people that leave the resorts or dont go in the first place and experience the DR culture....often times it is a real shock to REALLY experience it...like an uprising on the road....or a flooded river washing out the road....or the traffic jams and motoconchos.....or getting fleeced...how ever which way....that is part of the culture.. that bad stuff goes hand in hand with seeing the country....seeing the farms and ranch's and the way people live out away from the city.....it can be a real experience......but at the risk of many things that can ruin a trip.....heck the first trip I made on my own there...I hit a huge horse with my rental car......thats reality.......

I dont think a person can do the real domincan cultural experience in the first 3 or 4 trips with out good friends who know the ropes.....leading the way..

one persons view

bob
 

miguel

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Jul 2, 2003
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Promoting their Resorts...........

Rafael:

Can we blame them for making sure we spend more money at their Resorts and spend our money using their tour services?. I don't.

Should we believe them when they say that "it's dangerous to leave the Resorts", absolutely NOT.

EVERYBODY should experience the DR though the eyes of the locals.
 

Don Juan

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Dec 5, 2003
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Well, you know what? You could get held up at gun point, assaulted, raped, even killed in the DR....But, hey, what else is new? this can happen in any place in the world! Even in your most "civilized" nations right?... I mean, would you go looking for excitement in Chicago's south side or New York's Harlem? Or SD's "Guachupita"! (really bad ghetto!). Eh?
Like any country you visit, You've got your truly hell-holes, and blissful Edens. DR is no exception. So, darn it!, it is up to the visitors and locals alike, to have the common sense to study the obvious dissimilarities and recognize/realize the distinction and make a freaking, rational determination, and go from there! Me comprendes?....Co?o!... What is so mystifying about it?
 

Conchman

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Problem is when people do stupid things on vacation (which is often) their tour operators have to spend time and/or money (if it end ups in a lawsuit for example) to help the folks out. I do agree telling tourists not to go outside the resort unless its a licensed tour sold by them is ridiculous, but I can assure you its not blind greed but rather good business sense. I'm not here to defend it, I'm just explaining it. Some do make harsh safety inspections for the tours they sell as there are many unlicensed tours without insurance out there that would sell a motoconcho rides through downtown Puerto Plata during the rush hour and construction - if they could. So my point is that their intent is not harm the DR's image (even though they do) but they want to limit their exposure to ridiculous lawsuits and spending time at the hospital, morgue, or prison.
 
Oct 29, 2006
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Conchman, you have explained it beautifully, and you and I understand it.
The problem is that, the tour operators should make a better effort to deliver that message. Conveniently, it's too complicated, so... it's better to leave it at that.... It's dangerous, stay here.
Sorry, I can't accept that answer, and I believe that anybody living in DR or with some experience of the island, cant' either.
They must come with a better answer. One that does not satisfy the lawyers and their associates. Simply one, like you just described, that tells the truth.
Anybody living in a developed country will understand the risks of walking any street in any country, without any added suspense and or sensationalism
 

Conchman

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Conchman, you have explained it beautifully, and you and I understand it.
The problem is that, the tour operators should make a better effort to deliver that message. Conveniently, it's too complicated, so... it's better to leave it at that.... It's dangerous, stay here.
Sorry, I can't accept that answer, and I believe that anybody living in DR or with some experience of the island, cant' either.
They must come with a better answer. One that does not satisfy the lawyers and their associates. Simply one, like you just described, that tells the truth.
Anybody living in a developed country will understand the risks of walking any street in any country, without any added suspense and or sensationalism


I totally agree and I have brought up the subject to their bosses on several occasions - they give me these reasons but its usually their staff that takes the short cut route since they are themselves often little informed of the country due to high staff turnover (due to market conditions). Of course they are responsible to what their staff says and I do point out this problem to them whenever we meet for business or socially. The AI model is a double edged sword, you can get quick investment and jobs but its not good for the local economy as non-AI resorts. However, where would the DR be right now without them? The AI resorts introduce a lot of people to the country who are likely to come back for another vacation, maybe non-AI resort, or maybe even for retirement. And the jobs give a lot of poor people money which goes back into the economy. Think of suppliers of food, consumables, delivery truck drivers, advertising, it goes on and on...called the 'ripple effect' if my memory from economics class is not failing me.
 
Oct 29, 2006
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Conchman, the all inclusive resorts, have a choice of the tour operators and salesman operating within their lobbies.
It does not matter to an "all inclusive" resort where their guests go. Except for the fact that if they miss lunch or dinner, it means less expenses for them.
So...for the "all inclusive" resorts, my suggestion will mean more dollars for them. Even if you take into consideration the commissions they may get from the tour operators, it will be compensated by the missing dinner guests.
None of the above can justify the complains in my iniitial post
 

Conchman

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Conchman, the all inclusive resorts, have a choice of the tour operators and salesman operating within their lobbies.
It does not matter to an "all inclusive" resort where their guests go. Except for the fact that if they miss lunch or dinner, it means less expenses for them.
So...for the "all inclusive" resorts, my suggestion will mean more dollars for them. Even if you take into consideration the commissions they may get from the tour operators, it will be compensated by the missing dinner guests.
None of the above can justify the complains in my iniitial post

Actually some of the tour operators actually have ownership in the hotels they book, like the RIU's in Maimon for example where TUI/Thomson has 49% ownership. A Playa Dorada hotel was just recently purchased completely by a tour operator. So the tour operator IS the AI in some cases.

Other AI's don't have much of a choice either as some tour operators control over 50% of their rooms during certain times of the year and are in position to tell the resorts what to do and often have more power than the hotel management.

Tour operators can demand conditions like having the rights to sell excursions to their clients. If the AI wants to stay alive in a competitive environment that it is, they have to let them do it.

I agree the whole system sucks and its wrong to tell guests what they tell them. It hurts our business too, so trust me, I am not trying to defend them. However, if people know the real reason or are more informed as to why its happening than we can all do better to try to stop it.

Either the TO's stop it themselves via outrage like yours on the internet or involuntarily like via a law or fine or something. Maybe the Federation of Tour Operators or the Hotel Association can address this problem (more likely the latter) It has to be in the TO's interest to stop doing it and thats the hard part to implement.
.
 

PlantaFULL

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In essence I agree but.... have you seen many of the people in the resorts? I live in SD and often do weekend trips to various beaches (not much choice, nice Hotels are all AI). I am not saying they are morons but I think not even half of them have the ability & sensibility to handle a 3rd world country environment. Its also not just protecting the tourist from the DR, its also protecting the DR from the "bad" tourists. Compare Boca Chica from 20 years ago to today. It literally got ruined by "bad" tourism.

What I also find special about the AI resorts in the DR is the complete lack of "planification" outside the resort walls. Compare Punta Cana to Cancun. As soon as you leave the resort it is usually a complete mess without any transition. The strip behind the Punta Cana resorts goes like: Gas Station, Muffler shop, Cabanas, Colmado, another muffler shop... (the kind of strip even a mid-class Dominican from SD would lock his car form the inside and stop for noone). The historic stuff that would interest a typical non-AI-photo-cam traveler is often way too far form the resort areas.

I also agree it sucks and wish it was different, not just the AI policy but first and foremost the whole surrounding infrastructure.
 

Conchman

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I want to edit my last post but edit feature is not working at the moment. I hate when that happens and I want to change something before I go to bed. Basically what I wanted to add is that I will make it a point during meetings with hotel assocation officials and government leaders that they need to address this problem.
 
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Conchman

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In essence I agree but.... have you seen many of the people in the resorts? I live in SD and often do weekend trips to various beaches (not much choice, nice Hotels are all AI). I am not saying they are morons but I think not even half of them have the ability & sensibility to handle a 3rd world country environment. Its also not just protecting the tourist from the DR, its also protecting the DR from the "bad" tourists. Compare Boca Chica from 20 years ago to today. It literally got ruined by "bad" tourism.

What I also find special about the AI resorts in the DR is the complete lack of "planification" outside the resort walls. Compare Punta Cana to Cancun. As soon as you leave the resort it is usually a complete mess without any transition. The strip behind the Punta Cana resorts goes like: Gas Station, Muffler shop, Cabanas, Colmado, another muffler shop... (the kind of strip even a mid-class Dominican from SD would lock his car form the inside and stop for noone). The historic stuff that would interest a typical non-AI-photo-cam traveler is often way too far form the resort areas.

I also agree it sucks and wish it was different, not just the AI policy but first and foremost the whole surrounding infrastructure.


Thats a good point, in many other countries the TO's would not have to do this but in the DR there is just so much craziness on a daily basis. Look at the main road construction in Puerto Plata, after 9 months of construction we have what? Certainly not a road you would want a tourist to drive a rent a car in, or to ride on a moto concho. And that is the main highway!
 
Oct 29, 2006
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without going out of anybody's way here, I hear that my original post is more than justified.
I am not trying to make a perfect world. I am completely ignorant of the deals the resorts have with tour operators, government officials, girl friends,
lovers or whatever.
IT IS SIMPLE GUYS: IS IT MORAL OR IT'S NOT?
IS IT FAIR OR IS IT A FARSE?
We don't need monday morning quarterbacks to analyse a past game.
It's a simple moral fact in which of all of us can trully dig into our true sense of values and decide. No what if's here.
If I was a poliitician I would not be posting ideas here. I believe I am better than that.
If anybody here can trully defend the position of tour operators say so, without any excuses.
 

Rocky

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without going out of anybody's way here, I hear that my original post is more than justified.
I am not trying to make a perfect world. I am completely ignorant of the deals the resorts have with tour operators, government officials, girl friends,
lovers or whatever.
IT IS SIMPLE GUYS: IS IT MORAL OR IT'S NOT?
IS IT FAIR OR IS IT A FARSE?
We don't need monday morning quarterbacks to analyse a past game.
It's a simple moral fact in which of all of us can trully dig into our true sense of values and decide. No what if's here.
If I was a poliitician I would not be posting ideas here. I believe I am better than that.
If anybody here can trully defend the position of tour operators say so, without any excuses.
It's a simple case of logistics.
Tour operators, all inclusive hotels and tour reps, all want to make money.
That is the fundamental principle of business.
AI resorts barely make profit from the sale of the package, if at all.
The real profit is from what they sell their guests while they are here, be it from the boutiques, changing money or selling them tours.
To expect them to go to all the trouble of getting a guest into their resort and then tell them that they should go spend their money elsewhere is ludicrous.
It's tantamount to a Chevrolet dealer getting a client into his showroom, and telling him that the Fords across the street are great.
And is it true that it's more dangerous outside the resort?
Yes!
And who has to clean up the mess if a guest does get in trouble outside of the resort?
The tour rep.
So why in the world would the tour rep want the guest to go out of the resort, when they would lose revenue and complicate their lives?
This is not rocket science.
There is nothing immoral going on here and it's sound business.
As someone pointed out, most of the tourists who go to the AI resorts aren't even capable of dealing with the DR's "real world".
 
Oct 29, 2006
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"Basically what I wanted to add is that I will make it a point during meetings with hotel assocation officials and government leaders that they need to address this problem."

Thank you Conchman.

I am also reporting this through my friend in the DR's General Consulate in New York.
 
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