If the recovery trend continues, at the end of this year the arrival of foreign visitors by sea would be similar or higher than in 2019.
Cruise tourism is growing. The arrival of tourists via sea went from 804,185 in 2016 to 1,103,898 in 2019, this is equivalent to an inter-annual increase of 37.7%, according to statistics from the Dominican Central Bank (BC).
In the first 11 months of 2022, 1,085,666 people entered by that route, which is why the Minister of Tourism, David Collado, assures that “the Dominican Republic is breaking pre-pandemic levels”.
During January-November 2019, 948,118 people arrived via cruise ships, for a difference of 137,548 passengers and a net increase of 14.5% over this year. When compared to the same period of 2017, an increase of 16.6% is recorded, when it stood at 930,461 tourists.
Collado reiterates that “tourism is breaking historical figures”. And he is not wrong. BC figures indicate that the country only needs 40,532 cruise passengers in December 2022 to surpass 2017 and 2019.
If the recovery trend continues, at the end of this year the arrival of foreign visitors via sea would be similar or higher than in 2019, when it grew by 12.2% (1,107,966) in relation to the arrival of 982,329 cruise passengers in 2018. The official assures that he is making efforts to strengthen this growing tourism segment.
Tourism is one of the main columns of the local economy. The arrival of seven million people to enjoy the Dominican Republic’s tourism offer is a reference of its importance as a value-added activity in the gross domestic product (GDP).
According to the Central Bank, the tax on the departure of passengers abroad through airports, ports and by land amounted to RD$6,779.9 million between January and September of this year. When the data is broken down, the tax on passengers departing abroad through airports and ports amounted to RD$6,583.0 million. Meanwhile, the land departure tax generated revenues of RD$196.8 million.
The actors involved consider that the Dominican Republic has demonstrated that it is a nation to be taken into account in the Caribbean region by the cruise industry. The country has nine ports: La Romana, San Souci, Don Diego, Samaná, Cap Cana, Amber Cove, Taino Bay, Catalina Island and Saona Island.
Cruise arrivals fluctuate according to the months. The Dominican Port Authority (APD) records that in November 195,270 tourists arrived on 96 ships. This was followed by March (133,318), July (107,453), January (106,589) and February (97,808) with 41% of the total passengers aboard 322 ships. Although only 38 ships arrived in August, they brought 94,854 tourists, 89,078 cruise passengers in October and 78,279 in June 2022.
Meanwhile, May and September were the months with the lowest number of passengers reported, with 59,147 and 51,605, respectively, aboard 60 vessels, according to official statistics.
Although cruise tourism represents an opportunity for diversification, this type of modality represents only 14.5% (1,085,666) of the arrivals from January-November 2022. This means that 85.5% arrived by air (6,397,444).
In addition, their contribution in economic terms is not as significant (they are transient visitors). One of the factors that influence this type of travel is that their average expenditure is US$100 per day, due to the itinerary based on shopping and participating in excursions and then returning to the ship to continue the trip, which means that they do not stay overnight in local hotels.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTCC), the Caribbean’s geographic location, cultural riches and natural beauty make the region one of the most important destinations for cruise tourism.
The multinational Cruise Lines International
Association (CLIA) reports that this type of travel was welcomed by 29.7 million passengers in 2019, with the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda being the preferred route for passengers with 42%, or 12 million passengers. This is followed by Asia with 4 million preferences and the Mediterranean with 11%, representing 70% of cruise passengers’ choices.
For that year, this type of travel and tourism contributed US$154.5 billion to the global economy and generated 1.1 million jobs with a salary remuneration of US$50.53 billion. The CLIA indicated that these travelers spend an average of US$385 in port, while spending drops to US$100 during their stay at sea.
The Ministry of Tourism (Mitur) reports that 571,354 tourists arrived in the Dominican Republic in November 2022 via air. Of this amount, 476,647 were foreigners and 94,707 were non-resident Dominicans. Meanwhile, by sea, the country registered 195,270 passengers.
The Minister of Tourism, David Collado, reports that these passengers contributed US$532 million in foreign exchange to the local economy.