As mentioned in our first bulletin from the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange,while Punta Cana is the dominant destination in the Dominican Republic and, indeed, all the Caribbean islands, efforts to encourage tourism to other parts of the island are starting to pay off. And there was more news about that on the second day of the conference. To wit:
Gray Line Tours’ new 2 1/2-hour tour of Santo Domingo departs every 30 minutes during the day and includes 16 key sights, as well as sights in the capital city. These include the Plaza de Espana, Ozama Fotress, Malecon, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Blue Mall, Botanical Garden, Palacio Nacional, Ruinas de San Francisco, and the oldest cathedral in the New World. An especially nice feature of these tours is that participants may opt to hop off the bus at anytime they want to explore in depth, then hop back onto a later bus to continue the tour. This and other Gray Line tours and services in the Dominican Republic are commissionable.
The tourism authority’s official information site, accessdr.com, will have a rebirth in April that will include not just a cleaner, better design and navigation, but a booking engine for less obvious hotels (e.g. ecolodges in Samana and the Puerto Plata region) and activities that serve visitors with special interests. A big part of the thinking is to make the booking of hotels and activities, beyond the world of Punta Cana all-inclusives, easier for the trade.
The previous update from the Dominican Republic mentioned how the new cruise ship facility in Puerto Plata will benefit that entire region. On the second day of DATE, six delegates from the north also revealed that a marine park is in the works, since this is prime diving and snorkeling territory, and tour operators continue to debut new adventure and sporting activities. (See accessdr.com after the April upgrade for more information.)
History (e.g. Sosua was an important center for Jewish refugees starting in 1938), agritourism, and culture (e.g. the new Sosua Arts and Crafts Museum) are big draws to that region, too. The most important boost for the hospitality industry in the north? That may be the expansion of tax credits to hoteliers to update existing properties.
“Our region has a sense of place, a personality. It has soul,” concluded one of the delegates. Above all, he said, “Our goal is not to just create another cheap destination.”