Tourism professionals from all over the world gathered last week at Barcelo Bavaro Palace in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for the country’s Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) conference.
Radhames Martinez Aponte, the country’s vice minister of tourism, spoke at a press conference on Thursday, saying that the country had a record year for tourism in 2016, with occupancy rates up 3 percent from 75 percent in 2015. Even attendance at the DATE conference was up with 20 percent more delegates than last year. While the increase in tourism was a highlight at the conference, an emphasis on meetings and luxury made up some of the other developments that will help the country reach its goal of 10 million visitors sooner than you think.
Overall Growth in Hotel Room Capacity
In the past couple years, the Dominican Republic has welcomed 5,500 new hotel rooms and renovated 3,200. With another 8,000 hotel rooms currently in the pipeline, the country can expect major changes in tourism as they are gradually unveiled.
Santo Domingo Expands Infrastructure
Roberto Henriquez, president of Santo Domingo Hotels Association, says Santo Domingo has grown exponentially in recent years, especially due to the renovations in its Colonial Zone. Hotel occupancy rates continue to increase as well because of the city’s emphasis on the meetings market. To accommodate groups, a long-awaited convention center is in the works as well as the development of a convention and visitors bureau.
Major Luxury Hotels Open & Renovate
After officially being open for a couple months, the 457-room Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa had its grand opening gala on the Thursday night of DATE, introducing an adults-only escape that truly redefines the luxury experience for the all-inclusive concept. Bringing high-end luxury to the destination is also a goal for the newly opened 174-room Blue Beach Punta Cana, and same goes for Eden Roc at Cap Cana, which debuted 26, new two-bedroom beachfront suites just a few months ago.
Cruise Tourism Continues to Rise
While Carnival’s new cruise port in Puerto Plata was the big news last year, its success has brought a massive amount of cruise tourists to the country, with 550,00 in 2015, 830,000 in 2016 and more than 1 million expected for this year.