Cruise tourism is showing signs of recovery and aimed towards attracting new cruise lines that will commence operating in the country, the upgrading of both Santo Domingo terminals, and the construction of a station in Puerto Plata, and the project of including Barahona in the list of tourist ports. The Cruise Department Director of the Tourism Ministry, Orfilia Salazar , explained the reactivation of the sector which began in 2010, starting from the VII Annual Cruise Conference, via which a direct approach was achieved with the most prestigious cruise lines, and attracting Carnival Corporation for the construction of the Amber Cove terminal in the Maimón Bay, in Puerto Plata.
Likewise, the ministry announced the operational commencement of the firm MSC in the Dominican Republic for this season, with the model Lirica which will embark and disembark passengers in Sansoucí, and will stop in La Romana, this means, it will dock in two Dominican ports. Asides Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Aida, Norwegian Cruise, Seabound, Kristina, Costa Cruise lines, Celebrity Cruise, Medellin and other companies currently visiting the country.
Salazar informed that last year, they closed with a balance of approximately 450,000 cruise passengers, by both Santo Domingo Ports and La Romana, and in the dock points of Cayo Levantado and Catalina island, during the season which begins in October and ends in April. However, the official pointed out that the country is ready to receive more than 1,000,000 cruise tourists by season. “We have wanted to compare the country to Labadee in Haiti, but they receive cruise ships year round and have the island leased to one of the most important cruise firms which docks all their vessels with capacities between 3,000 and 5,000 passengers. When Amber Cove begins their operations in Maimón, then the comparison will be possible” she explained.
The Travelwise CEO, Laura Asilis, estimated that Dominican Republic could receive 15 ships per day and coincided with the Tourism dignitary that what is needed is for lines to remain in the country year-round and not just in the winter season. “We have to offer all the facilities for cruises to arrive, because the average expenditure by a passenger docking at port in one day is around USD$100.00, thus representing a significant revenue for the economy, if taken into account that a vessel can bring in up to 5,000 passengers”, said the businesswoman.
Asilis emphasized as well on the necessity of strengthening citizen safety and educating tourist transport companies, per her assurance, due to the reporting of incidents in which taxi drivers fights for tourists. “This is what reflects in passenger observations on board, which are decisive regarding a ship making port or not”, she manifested. Asilis also said that in the country it is essential to work on citizen education regarding the way tourists should be received, because even Dominicans are used to foreign visitors checking in at hotels as well as the lack of a cohabitation culture in communities. “Cruise tourism is an important way of marketing our destination, because if visitors enjoy the experience, it is highly likely they will return by plane or repeat the cruise experience”, emphasized Asilis. Salazar added that cruise tourism is ascending in its growth, projected up to 2,020, and pointed out its importance for boosting the economy , not just because of the fees paid per passenger by the cruise line, or dockage and navigational rights, but also because they represent consumption and direct as well as indirect employment in restaurants, gift shops, tour guides, artisans, tour operators as well as other goods and services.
NEXT SEASON EXPECTATIONS: By offering the report for the 2011-2012 season which ended in April, Salazar informed that Samana was the only port which experienced a decrease in tourist arrivals compared to season 2009-2010. However for the next two seasons, Royal Caribbean confirmed their ships will be docking in the bay, thus contributing with a visitor capacity of 32,000 per season, which represents a 2% increase for the 2012-2013 season. Up until ends of 2014, Carnival Corporation has not foreseen to begin operating at Amber Cove, Puerto Plata, reason why the immediate plans are to work in Sansoucí, La Romana and Samaná, which the best expectations for the city of Santo Domingo as a multiple option destination for cruise tourists. Salazar said that the USD$30million investment the MITUR will made in order to restore the Olde City, throughout the Interamerican Development Bank (IADB), will serve as a platform to relaunch Santo Domingo as a tourist destination.
Sansouci is a company in the Real State & Tourism portfolio of assets managed by VICINI.
The VICINI family has invested in different economic sectors in the Dominican Republic for over 140 years. VICINI is one of the companies that has contributed significantly to the development and industrialization of the country.
Source: Listin Diario