Positive signs in Dominican tourism one year after the total shutdown
The president of Asonahores highlights the projection of an occupancy rate of 42% for March, which would be the best figure in the last 12 months, and 40,000 jobs have been recovered. Hotels in the Dominican Republic see “clear signs of recovery” exactly one year after the border closure was enforced due to the pandemic, the effects of which have plunged tourist arrivals to figures of more than 20 years ago.
President Luis Abinader said this Friday that in the Dominican Republic it can be affirmed that the recovery of the tourism sector has begun, assuring that more than 40,000 jobs have been recovered.
“Because the objective of the government is mainly one, job creation; two, job creation, and three, job creation,” said the president at a press conference held at a hotel in Cap Cana, according to an official statement.
In his opinion, the tourism sector will be recovering 10,000 jobs every month.
“In addition to this recovery, we have 18,000 new jobs created by people who did not work in this area before and the announcements of projects in the cruise tourism sector, in the thematic areas and new mega-projects such as the one in Pedernales province and others yet to be announced”, added Abinader.
The Minister of Tourism, David Collado, said that it is estimated that between 230,000 and 260,000 tourists will visit the country this March.
The Vice Minister of Tourism, Jacqueline Mora, affirmed that when the Government started its administration last August, there were only 15,000 rooms open and that today there are more than 42,000.
Occupancy in March
The president of the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (Asonahores), Rafael Blanco, told Efe that an occupancy rate of 42% is projected for March, which would be the best figure in the last 12 months.
Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader
President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader
“Although we sustained a 62.5% drop in non-resident arrivals during 2020, already in 2021 we are seeing clear signs of recovery, mainly due to the demand generated in the U.S. market, which is our main outbound market,” explained the president of the hotel guild. See: Dominican hoteliers expect 100,000 Americans for Easter Week.
In Punta Cana, the country’s main destination, room bookings have already recovered “to pre-pandemic levels”, according to Tourism Minister David Collado, who said last week.
The improvement in bookings and occupancy data comes despite the fact that Canada, the second largest source of tourists to the Dominican Republic, banned travel to the Caribbean until next April, which has slowed the recovery process throughout the region.
Rooms open: 44,000
As a result of the travel restrictions, Dominican hotels continue to reactivate at a slow pace and have so far reopened 44,000 rooms, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism.
This represents 53% of the 83,000 rooms that were available in the country at the end of 2019, according to Central Bank statistics.
At the employment level, according to Government estimates, about 100,000 August jobs have been recovered as of February, out of the 350,000 that existed in the tourism sector prior to the arrival of COVID-19.
The projections of the sector contemplate “a strong increase” in the arrival of tourists as from the summer, “supported by the successful vaccination process that is being carried out both in the United States and in the Dominican Republic”, affirmed the head of Asonahores.
Punta Cana Airport.
For the same reason, the sector also expects that Canada and the main markets of Europe “can be integrated in a forceful way to the international tourism in the next months”.
To attract tourism, Dominican authorities have worked to design a special sanitary protocol, which now includes free PCR tests for tourists upon their return to their countries.
On a recent visit to the country, the secretary general of the World Tourism Organization, Zurab Pololikashvili, said that the Dominican Republic is an example of how tourism can be managed with responsible protocols.
An economy without tourism
The paralysis of tourism meant for the national economy a drop in income of 4,802 million dollars, which means an annual decrease of 64.3% in this concept, according to data from the Central Bank.
The Dominican government has been forced to increase the level of indebtedness, up to 69.2% of GDP, in order to pay for social assistance to unemployed workers, to face the higher health expenses due to the pandemic and the incentives for economic recovery.
Despite the severe shock to the Dominican economy, the fastest growing in Latin America in recent years, the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic has been forced to increase the level of indebtedness to 69.2% of GDP in order to pay for social assistance to unemployed workers, higher health spending due to the pandemic and incentives for economic recovery