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The Dominican Republic, celebrated for its natural beauty and warm hospitality, is poised to claim its spot again as one of the most sought-after destinations in the Latin American region by the close of 2023, with an anticipated 10 million visitors expected by year-end.
As we commemorate World Tourism Day on September 27th, this article delves into how tourism has evolved into the driving force behind the Dominican economy, representing an impressive 60% of its economic growth. It also explores how this Caribbean gem has excelled in the global travel and tourism market, particularly in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Impact of Tourism on the Economy
Héctor Valdez Albizu, the Governor of the Dominican Central Bank, underscores the importance of tourism as a foreign exchange generator and economic engine. This sector not only balances current accounts but also attracts foreign investment, contributing significantly to the overall development of the Dominican Republic. The fact that tourism has remained robust even during the so-called off-peak season is a testament to its resilience and consistent revenue-generating capabilities.
Milestones in Dominican Tourism
David Collado, Minister of Tourism of the Dominican Republic, celebrates an exceptional start to 2023, with the arrival of seven million tourists in the first eight months. These visitors arrive by air and sea, highlighting the diversification of tourism options in the country. Furthermore, hotel occupancy has exceeded 70%, even during the off-peak season, demonstrating the continued demand for the Dominican Republic as a tourist destination.
Collado confidently projects that by year’s end, the Dominican Republic will reach its coveted goal of hosting 10 million visitors. This remarkable achievement results from a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors, working hand in hand to elevate tourism as the country’s economic cornerstone.
Million-Dollar Investments in the Hotel Industry
One of the most encouraging signs of the tourism boom in the Dominican Republic is the substantial investment in new hotels. Casa de Campo Resort and Villas stands out among these projects—a luxury complex promising unforgettable experiences for visitors. New suites, a premier club, and a modern spa were inaugurated in May as part of a multi-phase expansion project, with a total investment exceeding US$90 million. These investments expand the supply of quality accommodation, generate employment opportunities, and contribute to sustainable economic growth.
In addition to the hotel sector, the Ministry of Tourism invests US$5.093 billion in 53 projects nationwide. These include 12 road projects, seven waterfront developments, three beach enhancements, four park renovations, two new buildings, and a religious structure. The remaining projects focus on museums, environmental improvements, and monuments.
In fact, today marks the official inauguration of the waterfront in the Caleta Municipal District, La Romana, with an investment of RD 96 million.
Promoting a country with a wide range of cultural, gastronomic, religious, and adventure tourism offerings has been vital in attracting diverse visitors. The exceptional air connectivity of the Dominican Republic, featuring both domestic and international flights, has facilitated access to this Caribbean paradise. This achievement has been made possible through a tireless public-private partnership working diligently to position the country as a global leader in tourism recovery.
The Dominican Republic leads the Caribbean in terms of air connectivity, topping the list of countries with the highest number of air passengers transported in Latin America, according to the Latin American Air Transport Association (ALTA). Of the seven million tourists who arrived in the country in the first eight months, 5.5 million came by air.
Meanwhile, the cruise industry also represents a significant segment of Dominican tourism. From January to August 2023, 1,535,213 cruise passengers arrived in the country via various tourist ports, as reported by the Ministry of Tourism. Among these, the Port of La Romana received 14,045 cruise passengers.
The Dominican Republic has earned well-deserved praise for its outstanding performance in the tourism sector. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recognized the country as the number one destination for tourism recovery in 2021 and 2022. Additionally, Forwardkeys predicts continuous growth in international arrivals, with the Dominican Republic standing out as a leader in the Caribbean region.
The renowned website TripAdvisor has ranked the Dominican Republic ninth among the most popular tourist destinations in the world in 2023. This accomplishment reflects the success of the country’s branding strategy, which promotes the nation as a whole rather than individual destinations like Punta Cana or Puerto Plata. The country leads in the Caribbean, surpassing competitors such as Aruba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and St. Maarten.
Dominican Republic Shines Internationally
The Dominican Republic has demonstrated that size is not a barrier to success in tourism. Despite being 175 times smaller than Brazil, it attracted more tourists than Brazil and Colombia in 2022 (Brazil received 3.6 million tourists in 2022, while Colombia registered 4.4 million visitors during the same period, while the Dominican Republic received 7 million), according to data from the UNWTO. This highlights the nation’s unique ability to attract visitors worldwide.
In conclusion, tourism has solidified its position as the Dominican Republic’s leading industry and economic driver, fostering investments, employment opportunities, and international recognition. With a focus on quality, diversification, and collaboration between the public and private sectors, the country has excelled as a premier tourist destination in the Caribbean and among the world’s favorites.
Data Source: Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic
Photographs: Mairobi Herrera