Tourism in the Dominican Republic is recovering strongly after the abrupt drop in 2020 as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. According to the Directorate General of Internal Taxes (DGII), tourist card collections amounted to RD$3,441 million during 2021, up 71.3% over the RD$2,009 million for the same period in 2020. The net increase is RD$1,432 million.
The tourist card is a fee charged by the DGII based on Law 199-67, which costs US$10 and is a requirement for entry into Dominican territory for tourism purposes, without the need for a consular visa.
During 2020, the year of greatest impact to the tourism sector due to the covid-19 pandemic, the taxes reported for this concept oscillated RD$131.9 million in April, month in which the mobility restrictions to preserve the life of the Dominicans started. A comparison with the same period of 2021 shows an increase of more than 152.8%.
Between May and June 2020 there was a drop in tourist card collections, as the spread of the coronavirus began to impact leisure travel, the Government decreed preventive measures that included border closures and limitations on non-essential travel within the national territory.
The tourism sector is a driving force for the Dominican economy. | Omar Marte
Reported taxes only reached RD$28.2 million in May 2020, the lowest tax revenues in 2020 for this concept.
However, in May 2021, the collection amounted to RD$334.3 million, a net increase of RD$306.1 million, that is, more than 100%. While, in June 2021, official data indicates that collection amounted to RD$331.2 million, RD$295.6 million more than in June 2020, when it totaled RD$35.6 million.
With the reopening of the borders and the resumption of international flights, the DGII collected RD$69.7 million during July 2020, while for the same month of 2021 it totaled RD$319.6 million, this represents a difference of RD$249.9 million, or a percentage variation of more than 100%, which represents the economic reactivation of the tourism sector.
Collections from the tax levied on tourists entering through the Dominican Republic’s airports and ports maintained an upward trend during the last four months of 2020. In September RD$146.3 million was recorded, October RD$124 million, November RD$160.9 million and December with RD$250.2 million.
While, for the same period in 2021, the fiscal institution indicated that, due to the entry of passengers in ports and airports in the Dominican Republic, fiscal revenues increased. During September they amounted to RD$275.4 million, October to RD$290.4 million, November and December to RD$341.1 million and RD$360.7 million, respectively.
The tourism sector is one of the most productive in the generation of direct and indirect jobs that invigorate the Dominican economy, in addition to the generation of foreign exchange from tourists visiting the nation.
During 2019, the Central Bank (BC) totaled 7,126,857 tourists in Dominican territory. Of this amount, 6,446,036 correspond to non-residents and 680,821 to Dominican and foreign residents.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, passenger arrivals to the Dominican Republic fell by 62.0% during 2020, when only 2,707,423 visitors totaled 2,707,423. Of the total, 11.1% corresponded to residents (302,108) and 88.9% to passengers (2,405,315) who arrived through the different Dominican airports.
Between both periods, according to official data from the CB, there was a decrease of 4.4 million tourists who stopped coming to the Dominican Republic.
However, with the reopening of international borders and the decrease in covid-19 infections, 2021 totaled 5,590,124 passengers arriving to the national territory via air.
This represents an increase of 106.4% with respect to 2020, that is, 2.8 million more tourists who decided to visit the Dominican nation. According to the Central Bank, 595,815 were residents and 4,994,309 were non-residents, including Dominicans (1.3 million) and foreigners (3.6 million).
Decrease due to Russia-Ukraine conflict
The war conflict between Russia and Ukraine could mean a reduction in the number of tourists from these nations arriving to the Dominican Republic for vacations. In view of this possible scenario, economist Franklin Vásquez expressed that a decrease in the fiscal income from the payment of tourist cards is predicted, especially for Russian and Ukrainian citizens.
He explained that, the longer the negotiations between both nations to make a ceasefire last, the weaker the economies of these countries will become. “There will be no Russians and Ukrainians who have enough resources to travel outside their territory,” Vasquez understands.
He assured that after the war conflict is over, monetary resources will be used to rebuild Ukraine, leaving aside leisure trips to international nations.
Vásquez considered that the “only alternative” in view of the decrease for this item is for the Government to focus on promoting Dominican tourism in other destinations and to expand event tourism which can generate “good income” with foreign investment in the construction sector.
During 2021, the Dominican Republic received 183,700 tourists from Russia and 85,912 from Ukraine, or a total of 269,612 passengers between the two nations, according to the CB.