When the borders were authorized to reopen in July 2020, the tourism landscape was no longer the same and, although some of the characteristics remain, the profile of the tourist now visiting the Dominican Republic has been transformed by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The typical visitor is still mostly American, but now there are more Latinos arriving in the country. Boricuas, Spaniards, Colombians and Venezuelans now join North American tourists as the largest visitors to the country.
Data handled by the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic as of July indicate that 70% of the visitors arriving in the country are from the United States, and 3% come from Puerto Rico, 2.91% from Spain, 2.8% from Venezuela and 2.78% from Colombia.
Two years before, when tourism had not been subjected to the onslaught of the pandemic, the tourist was predominantly North American -both Americans and Canadians-, but the rest was more European, including French and Russians. But the COVID-19, between waves of contagions, closures and reopenings, has left tourism in countries such as Canada and a good part of Europe in an intermittent state, which is evident when one notices the changes in the profile of the visitor arriving in the Dominican Republic.
In a recent interview to Diario Libre, the vice-minister of Tourism, Jacqueline Mora, indicated that the change in the origin of the tourists has a direct cause in the preventive closures of the countries to avoid the propagation of the coronavirus, but also in a work done by the public sector and the companies to attract visitors from countries which have not been predominant in tourism in the Dominican Republic.
They spend less, but stay longer
Tourist spending after the pandemic has suffered, although visitors are staying longer in the country. Official data say that the average daily spending by a tourist in the first quarter of this year fell by 3.8% compared to the record for the same period in 2019. From $138.05 each day spent by foreign visitors in that year, the amount dropped to $132.83 a day between January and March 2021.
But while they spend less money in the country, they stay longer. The average stay of a tourist in the first quarter of this year was 9.28 nights, while two years ago it was 8.12 nights, according to official data.
More men, children and young people
The number of tourists over 50 years of age dropped sharply once the borders were reopened in July last year and has continued to do so so so far this year.
Although the majority of foreign visitors are in the 21-35 age bracket, the upturn in the number of children and teenagers now visiting the island has been considerable. From representing 14% of the number of tourists arriving in all of 2019, as of July of this year those under 20 years of age already account for nearly a quarter of visitors.
Another change during the pandemic has been the motive for visiting the Dominican Republic. Data managed by the Central Bank indicates that fewer foreign tourists are coming for vacations and more to visit friends or partners.
This has led to another change in the trend: where they stay. Although the majority of visitors stay in hotels, that proportion is no longer so overwhelming.
Statistics published by the issuing institute indicate that while in 2019 92.93 % of tourists stayed overnight in hotels, two years later the percentage dropped to less than 75 %. What was boosted was the stay in other types of establishments that are not detailed in the report.