Punta Cana recently celebrated the Dominican Annual Tourism Fair (DATA) 2023, the most important tourism fair of this attractive destination on the Caribbean island, promoted by the Association of Hospitality and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (ASONAHORES).
Leading the meeting, David Collado, the country’s tourism minister, said that between January and March, the Dominican Republic received 2.8 million tourists, confirming the boom in the industry, which the Dominican Central Bank says represents 25 percent of the nation’s economy.
Addressing the main hoteliers, travel agencies, tour operators and service providers in the tourism industry, Collado said that the Dominican Republic has become an international benchmark in the sector with the arrival in 2022 of more than 8.5 million tourists, of which 7.1 million have visited by air.
“Never in history has our country surpassed 6.5 million tourists by air. The Dominican Republic’s dream is to reach 10 million tourists and it will be a reality because we plan to reach 9.8 million,” he said.
From the point of view of sustainable tourism, he assured that the Dominican Republic is increasingly striving to be a greener destination, for which he will implement a vital resolution by which hotels will gradually eliminate the use of plastic. Another of the country’s key strategies is to reduce the cost of air tickets by signing the Open Skies Treaty with the US.
“We have already had meetings with the State Department and we hope that a delegation from the United States will come to the Dominican Republic to finalize this matter. The United States is our nation with the largest number of tourists.”
“We are also evaluating the reduction in jet fuel tax and the price of fuel. This will come into effect next month because of the European market, which is very important for summer tourism, and we need to see how we will reduce the costs for airlines on long-haul flights.” Collado said. It is really important to note that Salim Arkuch, Vice President of Expedia Group for Latin America and the Caribbean, recognized the Dominican Republic as the number one producer in the Caribbean.
He also announced that the Dominican Republic is holding specific meetings to seek a solution to the sargassum problem affecting Caribbean beaches. For this purpose, 6 million dollars have been invested, of which 1 million have been sent to various universities for research. Along with this investment, he said the Inter-American Development Bank is supporting $90 million for the restoration of the Colonial City (Santo Domingo), which includes churches, neighborhoods, streets and emblematic places for the culture of the Dominican Republic.
“This transformation includes art, fashion and gastronomy. We will leave the Colonial City as a polished jewel because it is a treasure and a heritage of humanity,” said the tourism minister. In addition to this initiative, the government is promoting a project to improve beaches through serious investment aimed at ending prostitution and the abuse of young people.
According to Collado, security is one of the top priorities on the agenda; that’s why the Dominican Republic is investing more than $3 million to strengthen its tourism police. “In December, when more than 1 million tourists arrived by air and cruise, we did not have a single incident to regret; and the same thing happened during Easter week.’
Meanwhile, Andres Marranzini, Vice President of ASONAHORES, said in an exclusive interview with TravelPulse that the Dominican Republic has already fully recovered the number of visitors and now the challenge is to resume the program of improvements in terms of sustainability, in addition to other practices developed before the pandemic .
“We are going to implement the Zero Plastic program throughout the Dominican Republic and we are also now putting the agenda back into programs for washing and reusing towels, optimizing cooling and the fluids used in their processes,” he said.
He also emphasized that thanks to the implementation of the e-ticket, it was possible to collect critical statistical information for the benefit of travel agencies. “With the e-ticket, we discovered valuable information, such as the type of passenger, their companions, the hotel they are looking for, etc. All this helps us to be much more efficient in optimizing resources and finding partners such as travel. agents.”
He told TravelPulse that over the next 20 months, the Dominican Republic is planning between 2,000 and 3,000 rooms in various destinations. Fortunately, many new entrants have booking, distribution and entrant club schemes. In the strategy that accompanies the marketing, the inclusion of the new rooms is effective enough. He also said the average customer stay was seven days with an average spend of $100. He also assured that the Dominican Republic has recently focused on tourists from the eastern part of the United States who are interested in activities such as culture, golf, sustainability and social work.
Another of the most relevant participants at DATE 2023 was Victor Pacheco, CEO of Arajet, a low-cost airline based in Santo Domingo that operates a network of 17 destinations in 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The CEO told TravelPulse that they recently opened routes to New York, Miami and Puerto Rico.
“The idea is to establish our hub in Santo Domingo to connect these destinations with Mexico City, Cancun, Guatemala, San Salvador, San Jose, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Cali, Medellin, Bogotá, Quito, Guayaquil, Lima, Aruba, Caracas, San Martin and Jamaica; in addition to expanding into Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay.”
He noted that Arajet is committed to fuel-efficient operations with state-of-the-art sustainable aircraft. “When we started 2022, the company made a big effort with MAX 737 aircraft because we believe in sustainability, so now we have the youngest fleet of sustainable aircraft in the entire region,” Pacheco said, saying that this allows them to offer the most good price per kilometer.
He reported that with its 17 routes and 42 new connections, Arajet has operated more than 2,500 flights and carried more than 180,000 passengers. “We have travel agencies and tour operators as partners. Interested parties can email us to make a customized plan for them; we have a list of about 300 partners with direct access to our website and we want more,” said Pacheco.
For this year, Ajaret plans to open 10 new routes, in addition to doubling its fleet, to close the year with 10 aircraft equipped to operate with a 14 percent reduction in fuel compared to the most efficient single-aisle aircraft, plus 50 percent reduction compared to other aircraft. “For now, our flights are focused on the Americas with the idea of democratizing travel in the region. By the end of our five-year plan, we will have to serve 54 destinations in the Americas with a fleet of about 25 aircraft,” says the Arajet CEO.
Finally, he emphasized that as part of the company’s social responsibility program, the Pilot for a Day initiative (with Arajet volunteers) was created, which consists of students from various schools in low-income areas living with pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and technicians to learn and create opportunities for development, “so that children can have worthy dreams and that in this way commercial aviation can continue to grow.”
ASONAHORES, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic, created DATE in 2000 to highlight the Dominican tourism product by offering a trade exchange for international wholesalers, tour operators, incentive groups, airlines and charter operators to create business with the most important tourism suppliers of the Dominican Republic.
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