Several journalists from all over the world attended the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) at Paradisus Palma Real Resort last week to learn more about tourism developments on the island. Radhames Martinez Aponte, the country’s vice minister of tourism, told the group that the Dominican Republic as a destination has grown at an annual rate of about 5.8 percent over the last six years, compared to the Caribbean as a whole, which has only grown 3.5 percent. The country expects to reach 6 million visitors this year, after receiving 4.8 million last year. Here are five other takeaways from the conference that should be on meeting planners’ radars:
The island’s capital city will continue to attract groups with the opening of the 400-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Santo Domingo, scheduled for late 2017, and a new 270-room InterContinental debuting in July. Simon Suarez, president of Asonashores, the Dominican Republic’s hotel and tourism association, says that the private sector continues to encourage the development of a convention center in Santo Domingo as well. An advisor group recently conducted a study to determine the type of building that would be required, and they are beginning to develop a convention bureau.
Puerto Plata increased its number of visitors by more than 11.5% since 2015, largely because of Carnival’s new port, which welcomed 550,000 passengers last year.
Viva Wyndham V Samana and Luxury Bahia Principe Samana brought more than 400 hotel rooms to the Samana Peninsula in 2015, and about 2,000 hotel rooms are under construction to debut in the next couple years.
The roughly 5,000 miles of roads built in the past three to four years on the island will make it much easier for groups to travel by bus to and from different cities.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will add pre-clearance operations in Punta Cana’s airport by May 2017, which will allow travelers returning from the Dominican Republic to avoid U.S. customs-and-immigration lines upon arrival in the States.