Quisqueya is still the one
BY: REDACCIÓN EXCELENCIAS PHOTOS: MINISTERIO DE TURISMO DE REPÚBLICA DOMINICANA
THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IS BORN AGAIN WITH THE STRENGTH OF A DREAM DESTINATION. SEPTEMBER MARKED A MILESTONE AS FAR AS TOURIST ARRIVALS TO THE CARIBBEAN ISLAND ARE CONCERNED, GOING ONE BETTER THE FIGURES LOGGED 2018, 2019 AND 2020, AND HOPEFUL TO REEL IN 4.8 MILLION VISITORS BY YEAR END The Dominican Republic is moving towards the recovery of its tourism industry with encouraging figures that overcome even some of the best historical records of the sector on this Caribbean island. From the adversity and challenges inherent to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the great Quisqueya is born again with all the strength of a dream destination, a true paradise for visitors. The month of September marked a milestone in statistics: the number of foreign tourists arriving in that nation -way over 300,000- was higher than those received in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Forecasts point to the continuity of that growth as this year is expected to conclude with about 4.8 million international tourists in all. "The close ratio observed between the performance of air ticket bookings to the Dominican Republic and the inflow of tourist arrivals augurs a significant rebound for the end of the year in the recovery trend that the country is undergoing," says the Dominican Ministry of Tourism. Those reservations, in the period from October to December 2021, hover somewhere between 12% and 20% above those made in 2019, which reflects the confidence of travelers in the handling of the health crisis and the measures adopted by the Government for the reopening of the sector, coupled with compliance with protocols. Other positive indicators were also recorded during the ninth month of the year: the arrival of 3,694 commercial flights, with an occupancy rate of 71% by 87 airlines; while by sea, 10 cruise operations were carried out by eight ships. Likewise, hotel activity reached its peak with respect to rooms in operation (87%), with an average occupancy rate of 54% on weekdays and 61% on weekends. The piecemeal process of easing travel restrictions has made it possible to win back traditional outbound markets for the Dominican Republic, such as Russia, which is currently the runner-up in the ranking of outbound nations, just trailing behind the United States -its top traditional marketand Canada that comes in third place, followed by Spain and Colombia. One of the most attractive scenarios for tourists from different places is Punta Cana, the country's leading travel destination and the number-one in the insular Caribbean, with more than 40,000 hotel rooms. Punta Cana welcomes over 4 million tourists a year -that figure accounts for 57% of the total the country receives- and reports an income to the national economy of $4 billion. With 30 miles of white-sand coastline, turquoise beaches and coral reefs, diverse lodging options, golf courses, ideal conditions for water sports and other irresistible charms, this coastal paradise has reaffirmed itself as a captivating enclave. Data published by the Expedia Group indicate that travelers are currently in the vacation planning stages for Thanksgiving and Christmas; and among the most popular destinations for both dates in the world, Punta Cana is in fifth position. For Dominican businessman Frank Rainieri, president of the Punta Cana Group, one of the strengths of this destination to position itself in the preference of travelers in this POST-COVID-19 reopening lies in the very way it was designed. In his opinion, the industry will have to make changes because tourists will look for under-crowded hotels and places, and Punta Cana has a long way to go in this direction, since the development of the hotel industry has followed "low-density" guidelines and favored the construction of facilities "with many green areas and keeping the height at the level of a palm at no more than 18 meters high", he explained during the Meeting of Tourism Ministers of the Americas, convened by the World Tourism Organization last May. Reports presented by the Dominican Ministry of Tourism also highlight that, thanks to the normalization of the flow of nonresident foreigners, the Punta Cana airport has once again positioned itself as the main entry point for passengers, followed by the International Airport of the Americas and the Cibao International Airport. The roadmap to the rebirth of tourism in the Dominican Republic is unfolding in a region that, according to preliminary data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), showed a rebound in visitor arrivals during the second quarter of the year: the arrival of overnight tourists in Caribbean destinations jumped between tenfold and 37 times compared to the same months of 2020. In absolute terms, there was a steady improvement, as the number of arrivals rose from one million in April to 1.2 million in May and 1.5 million in June. "These are encouraging signs that the hard work our member countries have put in to adapt to the changing pandemic environment is beginning to pay off," considered Neil Walters, acting secretary general of the CTO. "While we embrace a recovery mindset and the opportunities the pandemic has afforded us, we must remain mindful of the challenges we currently face and the potential challenges on the road ahead."