Petra Cruz is the director of Dominican Republic’s Tourism Ministry for Europe and is at ITB Berlin to promote the Caribbean Island’s commitment to this year’s sustainability and eco-tourism theme. She started off by telling ITB News Berlin about the Dominican Republic’s rich natural heritage.
At ITB Berlin we are presenting the diversity of our wonderful Caribbean Island. The main focus in the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development will be on sustainability and eco-tourism. The Dominican Republic offers extreme contrasts with tropical forests, mountains, waterfalls, varied vegetation, intriguing history and rich culture. The beauty of our country has been protected in the form of 30 national parks, reserves, marine sanctuaries and many other resorts that focus on maintaining a healthy relationship with the country’s natural ecosystems.
This year we have two special presentations on Friday, March 10, concerning these sustainability topics from Fabian Ritter, a biologist and member of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and Elmar Mai, a biologist and journalist. Among other things, they will showcase the northeast Samaná peninsula, where the highlight is the whale watching season – every year between January and March, up to 5,000 humpback whales migrate to Samaná bay in order to mate and give birth to their calves.
How is the broader Dominican Republic travel market performing?
The Dominican Republic is the number one long-haul destination in the Caribbean region. Nearly six million tourists visited the Caribbean island in 2016, which is 6.4 percent more than the previous year – the revenue generated by tourism in 2016 amounted to more than six billion euros. Moreover, 55 hotel projects have been realised in the past three years. The guest number increase is, among other things, due to our expanding tourism offer and infrastructure expansion. For example, thanks to the new Boulevard del Atlántico highway on the Samaná peninsula in the northeast of the island, the most important places are connected: Santa Bárbara de Samaná, Las Terrenas, El Limón and Las Galeras.
Meanwhile, the new cruise terminal Amber Cove in Puerto Plata, which opened at the end of 2015, ensured the arrival of 121 cruise ships. And due to the strong demand for luxury holidays, many new hotels are opening and being built. For instance, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Santo Domingo will open in late 2017 with 400 luxurious hotel rooms