Dominican Republic A Destination for Families
AS YEARS ROLL ON, FAMILY TOURISM HAS BRANCHED OUT AND POSTED STEADY GROWTH AS FAR AS AVERAGE OVERTIME, THE NUMBER OF TRAVELERS AND THE AMOUNT OF YEARLY TRIPS
BY: YISELL RODRÍGUEZ MILÁN PHOTOS: MITUR
The target audience of the Dominican Republic's promotion for this sector was the Nordic countries, which are hit by the harsh winter and, as a temporary solution, "escape" to the Caribbean in search of sun and warm waters The Dominican Republic has been putting its smart money on family tourism for over a decade, and it's winning. A video by Swedish singer Martin Stenmarck reminds us of this much from Youtube, where it plays back from time to time when someone searches for content on tourism options for families in the Caribbean. Although perhaps Stenmarck is now virtually unknown in this part of the world, the truth is that the Dominican Republic is well positioned in both physical and digital life when searching for extraordinary nations to vacation with relatives and friends in the Americas. It is also a country that is easily accessible through direct flights from the most diverse parts of the globe and many celebrities have validated its beauty, bathed by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It has eight international airports and nine different ecological zones. The target public of the Dominican Republic's promotion for this sector was the Nordic countries, which are hit by the harsh winter and, as a temporary solution, "escape" to the Caribbean in search of sun and warm waters. For the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic (MITUR), according to statements issued on several occasions to the local press, it has been a challenge to articulate activities in which the different interests and ages of the family nucleus converge, but they have made an effort to present products that satisfy, leaving as a mark the desire to return. Traveling Magazine points out that the most attractive experiences in the country for this market segment include activities such as snorkeling, horseback riding on the beach or swimming among turtles, as well as sports, especially baseball games. Those who have accessed the family tourism packages, leave their comments on Tripadvisor satisfied because they have found what they were looking for: all-inclusive offers in which it is really possible for parents to enjoy while sharing vacations with their children. They recommend to other families to travel, above all, from November, to avoid the high season, or from April to June; as well as to bring sunscreen and avoid drinking tap water. For families, packages are almost always designed to include the flight plus the hotel. In the case of children, who are considered high-potential clients, there is a wide variety of recreational parks open all year round in Punta Cana. For teenagers, there is the adrenaline rush of rafting in Jarabacoa; and for those in their twenties, a highly demanded option is the crossing of the 27 Charcos de Damajagua in Puerto Plata or the practice of water sports in the town of Cabarete. Those over 50 years old also find proposals, such as the Safari by land in Bayahibe on board jeep trucks in which they go to know tobacco factories, traditional Dominican markets, as well as villages and local churches. This tour culminates with a visit to the Chavon River, where films such as Apocalypse Now, Rambo, and Jurassic Park were shot. However, it is really in the children's offerings that the Dominican Republic's specialization in family tourism has reached its peak. WHERE TO CREATE MEMORIES FOR CHILDREN? There are spectacular sites among which is the Hotel Nickelodeon Resort Punta Cana, managed by Nickelodeon, a company specialized in the production of cartoons. It includes a theme park where it is possible to enjoy characters such as Spongebob Squarepants or the Ninja Turtles. There is also the Hotel Fantasía Bahía Príncipe with water attractions, such as castles and daily shows; and Peképolis, a famous theme park located in the Silver Sun Gallery shopping mall. Peképolis is in the shape of a city where people play at being cooks, waiters, supermarket workers, researchers, scientists... among other professions. Puerto Plata is also very popular, involving the Ocean World Adventure Park, where you can get up close and per sonal or swim with dolphins and sea lions. Sharks can also be observed. Aquamundo, in the Sambil shopping center and with a design similar to the Atlantis Aquarium in the CC. Xanadú, in Madrid, offers families up to 72 different exhibits about life in the sea. There are camps, workshops and tours on the subject. Isla Saona and Samaná are two other incredible nature destinations. In Isla Saona there is a great backwater of virgin beaches; while in Samaná, in addition to the beach bathing, it is possible to ride on horseback over the rainforest. At Escape Park, families can go zip lining and explore the history of the Taino Indians, the colonizers and the Dominican peasants. Adding to the country's attractions is the Pirate Galleon excursion, a boat trip -free for children under six- to the El Paraíso coral reef, where it is possible to see manta rays and sharks or snorkel. Spending Christmas in the Dominican Republic with the family can also be a good idea. On those days, Santo Domingo's Malecon is transformed into what some locals and travelers refer to as "the world's biggest discotheque" with the sound of merengue music playing during long nights of partying. SCIENCE BACKS GROWTH According to Ostelea, over the years family tourism in Europe has diversified and has registered a sustained growth in the average length of stay, the number of people on the trip and the number of trips per year per family. He adds that among the factors taken into account when choosing a destination -valid also for other outbound destinations- are the safety of the establishments to avoid unexpected accidents with the little ones, the variety of services, spacious rooms, good gastronomy, unlimited activities and entertainment, good prices and accessibility. At the last World Travel Market in London, according to an Ostelea publication, it was noted as a trend that many children and teenagers in markets such as the United Kingdom have recently opted to stay at home on vacation just to stay connected with their friends, which reveals the importance of connectivity and the positioning of video game consoles in vacation destinations. Results of other research, with international scope, consolidated knowledge about what we already knew: the family continues to be a strong market for the leisure industry, especially after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we became aware of the value of being more together to share good times because life, as we see it today, can often be fleeting, but it is up to us to make it unforgettable.