In the midst of adverse scenarios, discouraging forecasts due to the effects of the covid-19 pandemic and the global crisis, tourism in the Dominican Republic, which is the main economic engine of the country, grew, strengthened and was recognized as the most resilient and recovered worldwide in the last two years.
With ever-improving figures for this important sector, the Dominican Republic is leading the way and is at the center of global interest. With more than six million non-residents visiting the country by November 2022, this nation has set historic milestones in the area, almost reaching the estimated goal of seven million tourists for this year.
This has also placed the country in a privileged position compared to other nations in the region, above them in terms of tourist visits and the development of the sector as the preferred destination.
The country’s achievements in this sector have been due to the efforts of the entire government, especially the Ministry of Tourism, headed by David Collado. The institution and its entire team have been responsible for the numbers currently on display, the result of the plans and strategies put in place by the Tourism Cabinet that was created in late 2020 when the country was plunged into a state of emergency due to the onslaught of the pandemic.
The Tourism Cabinet is presided over by the President of the Republic, Luis Abinader and is made up of the Ministers of Tourism, who serves as its general coordinator; of Public Health; of Defense and of Foreign Affairs.
It is also composed of the general commander of the Dominican Republic Navy, the general director of the National Police, the president of the National Drug Control Directorate (DNCD), the director of the Dominican Republic Export and Investment Center, the directors of Customs and of the Specialized Airport Security Corps (Cesac).
Likewise, the president of the Civil Aviation Board (JAC), the directors of the Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation (IDAC), of the Airport Department and of the Tourism Police, whose members exercise their functions in an honorary capacity.
In 2021, the first year of execution of the policies and strategies of the Tourism Cabinet, 4 million 995 thousand 412 visitors arrived in the Dominican Republic with the reactivation of the hotels and an intensive campaign that showed the attractions of the island as a country brand.
Despite negative campaigns coming from abroad and fortuitous events such as the accident that occurred in Bávaro in October 2022, which resulted in the death of five tourists and other injured people on board a bus, the solid position of the country in the region and worldwide with respect to tourism has not been affected.
TOURISM REBOUND BEGINS
Dominican tourism began to rebound from the beginning of 2022 with no reversal. In January alone, the country received 530,956 non-residents, a figure that was surpassed in February when 566,235 passengers entered the country.
Tourism behavior continued its upward trend in 2022, the Dominican Republic received 617,756 non-resident visitors in March and the following month, that is, in April, 626,010 passengers arrived in this nation.
In May 561,323 tourists came to the country and in that same month, and after exhibiting all that has been achieved in 2021 and the first five months of 2022, in an act headed by President Luis Abinader and the Minister of Tourism, David Collado, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) granted recognition to the Dominican Republic as the number one country in the world in the recovery of tourism.
Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the organization, did so in January in Spain for the “successful recovery in the tourism industry and its efficient management with the sanitary protocols in the different destinations of that Caribbean country” and also came to the country in May to present the plaque of recognition for the work of the country and the Government to make this area grow with a pandemic that has not come to an end and in the midst of a crisis that is hitting the whole world.
One of the most relevant recognitions for the Dominican Republic for positioning the country as the preferred destination in the world to visit and vacation, hand in hand with its recovery, was awarded to President Luis Abinader during his visit to Geneva, Switzerland, where this nation was awarded for the good practices applied that endorse world leadership in the tourism sector and the management of covid-19.
THE HIGHEST PEAK IN TOURIST ARRIVALS
In June 2022, 644,861 foreigners arrived in the country and July experienced the highest peak with the entry of 735,064 non-resident visitors to the national territory.
Later in August, 621,953 tourists arrived in the Dominican Republic, while in September, despite the effects of the storm Fiona that hit the country hard, tourism did not decline because in that month 430,129 tourists arrived.
Later on, specifically in October, 491,787 foreigners arrived in the country and last November the country received 571,354 tourists by air.
Among the countries of origin of foreigners who visited the Dominican Republic from January to November 2022 are the United States with 3,443,175 visitors; Canada with 610,285; France with 227,126; Colombia with 261,733 and Germany with 184,061 foreign visitors.
All these tourists have been mobilized through the 53,576 flights that arrived until November 2022.
ASONAHORES AFFIRMS THAT THE RECOVERY OF TOURISM IN THE D.R. IS A REALITY
The Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (Asonahores), the Dominican Republic’s leading organization in the tourism industry, has assured that the recovery of Dominican tourism is a reality, making it once again the number one economic activity in the country.
Convinced of this, the organization affirms that Dominican tourism is at its best moment and that “there is no other sector in the Dominican economy that has more productive chains than tourism” because, “to speak of tourism is to speak of agriculture, industry, transportation, generation of foreign exchange, jobs, and of course the thousands of MSMEs that supply goods and services to the sector”.
He also presented, within the framework of the celebration of its 60th anniversary, a recognition to the Cabinet of Tourism in the persons of President Luis Abinader and the Minister of Tourism, David Collado, for the record recovery that the sector has been presenting after the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
FRANCE RECOGNIZES THE RECOVERY OF THE D.R. ABOVE THE COUNTRIES OF THE REGION
In the framework of the IFTM TOP RESA, the main business fair in France, which brings together every year the main sectors of the leisure industry, business travel, MICE and groups, Minister David Collado received recognition for the recovery of the Dominican Republic, due to its handling of the pandemic, for a successful tourism year as the first destination in sales of long distance packages in France and for having risen in the pandemic above other countries in the region.
The president of Les Entreprises du Voyage, Jean Pierre Mas, presented the award to Collado, noting that it is the first recognition made to a country. Les Entreprises du Voyage is Europe’s largest association of 3,500 travel agents.
In addition to the awards of the UNWTO and Geneva, Switzerland, in 2022 the Dominican Republic has been recognized by several organizations and agencies related to the industry for being pioneers in the recovery of tourism.
Among these distinctions is that of Expedia, which recognizes the Dominican Republic with the award for the best promotional campaign for the tourism sector in Latin America (2021-2022). Prior to these awards, during the 2022 International Tourism Fair (Fitur), Minister David Collado and President Luis Abinader received the 2021 Excellence Award for the recovery and growth of Dominican tourism.
Likewise, the country received in 2022 the recognition of best Caribbean island by Leisure Lifestyle, and as best Caribbean island for families by Wherever Family. It was also recognized by Travel Weekly in England as the only country that has welcomed more tourists in 2022.
By the end of 2022, the Dominican Republic is positioned in first place among the most visited destinations in the world, according to the report published in December by the travel market research, big data in tourism and business intelligence company ForwardKeys.
HOTEL OCCUPANCY, CRUISE PASSENGERS AND FOREIGN EXCHANGE
During the process of tourism recovery, foreign exchange, the hospitality industry in the Dominican Republic has generated some US$7.81 billion in the period between January and November 2022.
In terms of tourism activity by sea, the Dominican Republic has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
In the period from January to November 2022, the cruise tourism sector in the Dominican Republic accumulated 1,082,646 cruise passengers and 533,733 crew members for a total of 1,616,379.
The results in tourist arrivals are linked to the work of international promotion with the signing of 76 international cooperation agreements, which during 2022 have been with the U.S., Canadian, European and South American markets, resulting in a total of 30 agreements from January to November 2022. Likewise, 46 new international cooperation agreements were approved, which are valid until 2023.
On the other hand, on November 2022, a hotel occupation of 70.4 % on the total of rooms in operation was visualized, with a distribution, from greater to smaller, by zone of La Romana-Bayahibe 83. 8 %; Bávaro-Punta Cana 75.6 %; Samaná 62.1 %; Gran Santo Domingo 60.2 %; Boca Chica-Juan Dolio 57.7 %; Santiago 57.4 %; Puerto Plata 50.3 %; Sosúa-Cabarete 50.4 % and the rest of the country with 59.6 %.
MOST IMPORTANT PROJECTS
Among the important projects being implemented by the Ministry of Tourism to achieve favorable numbers in tourism, is the implementation of the Central Unit of Tourism Procedures. This is a totally digital platform for tourist registration, which provides access to information such as email, type of lodging and country of origin by city of residence through the E-ticket.
The launch of the Central Unit for Tourism Procedures (UCTT), is a digital platform that concentrates the permitting services related to tourism investment projects and companies in the sector, providing online payment facilities (credit/debit card and/or bank transfers), digital signature of certifications, plans and resolutions, QR code on plans and mobile access with the TraMITUR application available in Apple store and Google play.
UCTT has been well received by the public. As of November 22, the platform had 647 users, 314 requests to the Department of Planning and Projects (DPP), 69 requests to the Tourism Development Council (Confotur) and 145 requests for operating licenses to Businesses and Services, for a total of 528 requests.
SITUR was also launched, which is a system that links the General Directorate of Migration, the Ministry of Tourism, the Central Bank and other actors to automatically generate all the information on tourists visiting the country on a daily basis with all their characteristics.
Another highlight is the launching of Qualitur, a distinction for quality, efficiency and competitiveness in the Dominican Republic’s tourism industry. Through this distinction, it is guaranteed to recognize the continuous improvement and promotion of quality in the services and products offered by this segment of tourism, providing credibility and distinction with a higher degree of customer satisfaction.
THE CHALLENGE REMAINS TO REACH TEN MILLION TOURISTS
Regardless of the progress and results of tourism in the country, it is still a challenge for this nation to reach ten million tourists per year.
This goal was proposed by the last government, and this people embraced it. However, the events that have occurred, such as the pandemic and others, have made it impossible to achieve it.
During this year, the country has broken figures with the arrival of non-resident visitors every month.