PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic –The Dominican Republic Association for Hotels and Tourism (ASONAHORES) hosted its annual Dominican annual tourism exchange (DATE), 2019 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic during the week of March 24 to 30, welcoming a record 750 delegates, 120 tourism businesses, 40 sponsors and 40 journalists for this year, which stood as the 20th anniversary of the DATE.
Held this year at the Blue Mall in Punta Cana on the 27th, and co-sponsored by the Dominican Republic ministry of tourism (MITUR), the DATE brought together professionals, national and international brands in the tourism industry, from of the business exchange where international wholesalers, tour operators, incentive groups, airlines and charters operators, hotel brands, destination management companies and craft vendors to meet at one massive trade show event where they can meet with each other and strengthen their partnerships and to a great extent, build new alliances along the tourism value chain in the Dominican Republic.
The welcome event took place on the evening of March 26, at The Grand Reserve Resort, a part of the Melia chain of resorts in Punta Cana where participants were made aware of the progress being made by ASONAHORES and the MITUR on the activities surrounding the DATE and the impact it has made over the years.
At the welcome ceremony, Paola Rainieri de Díaz, president of ASONAHORES, stated that the 750 is a record for the DATE conference. Rainieri also said that with the highest number of delegates for this 20th anniversary, the Dominican Republic is also marking a year where tourism growth in arrivals also grew by 6 percent from 2018.
Also on hand for the welcome event was Sheyly Viuque, marketing director for ASONAHORES, who gave insights into the dynamics of the DATE and said that after the DATE events she expects for delegates and participants to: “close very good deals with each other and to know the main country destinations that the country is offering… we have a lot of new experiences and new places for tourists.”
Rainieri also cited that the Dominican Republic’s main markets, which are the United States and Canada, exceeded eight percent and Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France and England, maintained their vitality; and this year started very well with a growth of 6.4 percent in the months of January-February totalling some 604,977 tourists.
Also, on hand for the welcome event at the Grand Reserve was the minister for tourism (MITUR), Francisco Javier García, who backed up Rainieri’s statistics and stated that: “this growth is in large part to the maturity and authenticity of the country as a tourist destination.”
Rainieri went further and stated that in 2018, the Dominican Republic saw a 6 percent growth in hotel rooms and that the country added 4,365 total hotel rooms throughout various regions of the country totalling 80,256 overall hotel rooms. In addition to the flourishing acquisitions, the Dominican Republic’s hotel occupancy rate was an impressive 77 percent, a 0.5 percent increase from 2017.
Rainieri also reported 65 projects are already approved for 2019 and the Dominican Republic is slated to add 11 new properties between 2019 and 2022.
Rainieri also highlighted that the diversity of travellers is evolving and in 2018, 80 percent of all tourist visits, were to protected areas throughout the Dominican Republic, proving that visitors are increasingly looking to explore beyond their hotel.
As part of MITUR’s commitment, minister Garcia stated that their ministry is supporting multi-destination travel and diversifying its segmentation and that more than 8,000 kilometres of roads have been created, renovated or expanded within the past four years.
Now, all major tourist areas are connected and accessible within a two-hour drive. The Dominican Republic’s rich history, diverse natural beauty and vibrant culture genuinely make it a destination unlike any other in the Caribbean or the world.
Garcia also made note that the Dominican Republic also caters to many interests and needs offering a diverse topography, world-class golf courses, adventure travel, romance, luxury, culture, gastronomy and more.
Following the ceremony was the second edition of the DATE awards which highlight international and local organisations who have made significant and impactful contributions to the development of the Dominican Republic’s tourism. Winners of DATE awards were:
- Best destination management company—Meeting Point Dominicana
- Best tour operator—Sunwing Travel Group
- Best online travel agency—Hotelbeds
- Best airline—JetBlue Airways Corporation
Also, following the awards ceremony entertainment provided by Dominican Republic pop and merengue star, Sergio Vargas, who wowed the crowd with his energy and array of feet tapping songs and body gyrating sounds.