What is the most innovative thing you have seen? -A tour of the cigar production offered by two companies, answered Manuel Sánchez, while another attendee of the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (Date) indicated that the most interesting thing was the Swim Horse, a new alternative that adds to the Dominican Republic’s tourism offer.
But what is it all about? “It is an ecological tour on horseback where the client will have the opportunity to get to know the ecosystem up close during the ride. That is, it is not only a ride, but there will also be an ecological part and also learn much more,” explained Ricardo Fausey of Swim Horse Punta Cana, the company offering the tour, to elDinero.
The proposal is part of the speech made by the president of the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (Asonahores), David Llibre, during the inauguration of the fair for the commercialization of the Dominican tourism product.
He pointed out that the Dominican tourism offer is improving. “We are not only sun and beach, but little by little we are already becoming known as a reference in health, shopping, business, adventure and sports tourism, among others,” he said.
While seeing a horse swimming is not something that is in the collective imagination, as Fausey explained, “actually the horse, by instinct, already knows how to swim. In other words, it either swims like a puppy, or it does a few little jumps like a dolphin,” he explained. However, he clarified that, like all animals, they have personalities and some of them like it and others do not.
Even so, he explained that the specimens have a balanced diet and also what he defined as “special care to keep them strong enough to be able to make this journey”.
Fausey reveals that Swim Horse Punta Cana is aware of the concerns of those interested in the activity.
“Many people will say, well, maybe because of the animal protection issue, ‘I wouldn’t like to ride him or I don’t know if they are doing something wrong’ to the horse because of this type of activity,” he says. However, he clarifies that, on the contrary, the animal always needs to get exercise. “It’s good for them,” he adds.
Before starting the activity, they seek to create a bond between client and horse. This implies that the person gets to know the foal. “Let them know how it lives, how we feed it and we also give a small demonstration, or explanation, of what the sport is,” he says.
The tour lasts half a day, approximately four hours, and the experience includes learning about both the local flora and fauna. It costs US$110 per person and no knowledge of horseback riding is required.
“We have received clients who have never ridden one. In addition, they are trained so they can go with clients. They are tame horses and perfect for the tour,” he explains.
They have been doing the activity since 2021 and since then, due to the increase of clients, from 20 horses with which they started, they had to double the amount.
“We already have 40,” he added. “In other words, the demand has been very good and the public’s acceptance has been the same. People have been very satisfied and always let us know in their comments that it has been the best experience of their lives, unique, because it is really something very different here in the country,” he said.
For Fausey, this is an opportunity to do something different and show that the Dominican Republic not only offers sun and beach, but also other alternatives such as ecological tours, swimming with horses and other cultural or historical offers.
One of the options within the complementary offer of tourism in the Dominican Republic is that which includes physical activities. The general director of Swim Horse Punta Cana, Agustin Arestizabal, is familiar with the subject.
The Argentinean explains that the main project that attracted him to the country was one about Polo, which he reveals is currently very active. “My attraction to invest in the country was those two, Puntacana Polo Club and Swim Horse Punta Cana,” he says.
He understands that tourists are looking for different attractions other than just sun and beach. In that sense, he assures that polo worldwide has a flow of tourists and when people are looking for a destination for their vacations, they are interested in those where they can also play Polo or golf.
“That is what I saw was missing here and that is why we started this project,” he says. He also explains that the client, or tourist, who is in the country sees the Polo option and “takes it as an experience”. The same with horse swimming, where they are provided with information about polo “and then decide to take a class to have that experience that we do, a class based on the client’s enjoyment”.
Likewise, he points out that the public that practices the activity “comes to improve and enjoy polo in the Caribbean”.
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