Dominican Republic Tourism Shows Off its Potential

Analyst Insight by .

Increased tourism flows in 2010, continuing into 2011, have placed the Dominican Republic in the spotlight. In 2010, arrivals to the Dominican Republic were up 0.4% from 2009, and Q1 results for 2011 have revealed 3% growth on the same time in 2010.

Hotel development

After seeing a slowdown in hotel developments during the economic downturn, the Dominican Republic saw a number of development projects discussed in 2010:

  • Nikki Beach plans to open a 150-room luxury hotel in Cabarete on the north shore, with condominiums and villas, a restaurant and beach bar;
  • Aman Resorts has plans for a boutique resort on the north coast between Puerto Plata and Samana;
  • The Punta Cana Resort & Club is planning a new eco-resort on Playa Serena, as well as three more golf courses;

  • AMResorts is planning a Do$400 million, 4-resort complex, to be called the Gems at Cap Cana, and expected to open in late 2012;
  • The first phase of the Puerto Marina project at Cap Cana residential development is expected to be completed later in 2011.
  • In October 2009, it was announced that Gustavo Cisneros, a Venezuelan businessman, plans to build a Do$2.0 billion tourist resort in the Dominican Republic called The Tropicalia. The resort is expected to take 20 years to build and will be located next to Samana Bay.

In January 2011, the Hard Rock chain opened Hard Rock Punta Cana, its first all-inclusive resort. Average daily rates start at US$246 per person and guarantee a 5-star experience. This is exactly what the local tourism authorities want to see to entice travellers with exclusive products and services.

Growing air traffic

Increased US flights into the Dominican Republic saw the introduction of new charter flights, as well as extended flights from Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis and St Louis, in 2010. In November 2010, Martinair increased its Amsterdam to Punta Cana flights to four a week.

The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Tourism signed agreements with airlines at ITB Berlin in March 2011 to add 20 more flights from Europe and North America to the island. For example, Canadian tour operator, Sunwing, has agreed to increase its flights from three times a week to six times a week on the Toronto-Puerta Plata route.

Brazilian airline, GOL, converted its charter flights in April 2011 to regular weekly flights from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to Punta Cana. JetBlue also announced in May 2011 that it has plans to expand its services in the Dominican Republic and add a fifth destination, La Romana.

Set for success

Although the Dominican Republic still depends heavily on the US market, non-stop infrastructure developments and increased air connections to and from the island will serve as a magnet for tourists worldwide. This, coupled with the ongoing efforts of the local tourism authorities to continuously enhance the quality of all products and services offered, is only likely to bring about strong future growth.