Why Are Dominican Republic Tourism Officials Smiling?

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Radhames Martinez Aponte, vice minister of tourism, speaks about the growth of tourism for the Dominican Republic at DATE 2015.
Radhames Martinez Aponte, vice minister of tourism, speaks about the growth of tourism for the Dominican Republic at DATE 2015.

“Tourism in the Caribbean grew 6.6 percent in 2014, which is robust, but in the Dominican Republic it grew 9.6 percent,” announced Radhames Martinez Aponte, vice minister of tourism, at DATE 2015. All told, there were 5.1 million visitors—450,000 of them new to the D.R.
Martinez admitted that he couldn’t promise another near 10 percent growth, but “the first three months of 2015 seem to be following a similar path, with 7.4 percent growth, and we have approved 33 new investment products—that is, hotels and attractions. Not just Spanish brands, but now U.S. brands as well, including Gansevoort.
“In June the restoration of Santo Domingo’s old city will be completed,” he added. New attractions such as Cirque du Soleil are coming to the D.R., two new shopping malls will open in Punta Cana, and new marketing campaigns will focus on golf, MICE, ecotourism, and extreme sports.
“The Dominican Republic recently added 1,013 rooms,” says Simon Suarez, president of Asonahores, the Dominican Republic National Hotel & Restaurant Association. “Many, such as the new Embassy Suites and JW Marriott, are in Santo Domingo, which helps make our capital an attractive destination.” (Stay tuned to Recommend for an update on the restoration and sprucing up of the old city, which is proceeding rapidly.)
In the country as a whole, another 2,070 rooms (e.g. a 1,000-room Riu, a 450-room Karisma, and some smaller, high-end hotels) are under construction, adds Suarez. There has also been a focus on upgrading existing product. Recently, he says, this led to the renovation of 2,740 rooms. What’s more, international brands are re-entering the Dominican Republic: Sheraton, Ramada, and Renaissance, for starters.

“This process shall continue, and we anticipate the announcement soon of yet another 2,000 rooms,” says Suarez. “We’re very optimistic.” For more information, visit godominicanrepublic.com.