New tourists: the vibrating force of the Dominican destination

The evaluations indicate that a medical tourist spends eight times more than the traditional visitor. It is estimated that the country receives each year 20 to 25 thousand travelers interested in medical services.

Millions of people visit the Dominican Republic every year.
Photo by from Pexels

Diversifying the tourist offer puts us, first of all, before a panorama of vast natural resources not yet taken advantage of.

Recodes of beach on the shore of Miches, extensive sandy shores on the Atlantic coast of the Samaná peninsula, intimate coastal sinuosities on the Puerto Plata-Montecristi sea route, silent high tides next to Baní, Azua, Barahona and in Bahía de las Águilas.

Fifty or sixty thousand new rooms could be accommodated, in prudential density facilities, in these peaceful places.

Until a short time ago, the character of the national tourist offer, its leitmotiv, consisted of the promise of an environmental Eden: warm stretches of sand under waving coconut trees that filtered the sun and gilded the skin in the blue silence of the oceanic infinity. The context, certainly, has changed.

New actors are emerging, unprecedented activities and exceptional occasions to expand the tourist benefit towards other dimensions.

Although the possibilities are diverse, the country has notorious competitive advantages, both material and intangible. In the heart of the Caribbean space, the Dominican Republic is the owner of an enviable exterior and interior connectivity.

The excellence of the hotel availability (in process of expansion during the last 30 years) is evolving at the rhythm of the largest and most thriving urban metropolis in the region: Santo Domingo, which also has cultural primacies and the oldest historical monuments of the New World.

With a majestic unspoiled nature that hosts the highest mountains in the Caribbean, the country maintains 26% of its territory as a protected area.

In one of the economies with the highest annual growth in the region (an average of 4.8% over the last 30 years), a democratic regime also stands out, whose stability has already lasted for more than 50 years.

Legal security and social peace, too, are part of an asset, of a daily stock that society takes pride in and enjoys at the same time.

This accumulation of competitive advantages that the Dominican Republic treasures will undoubtedly continue to multiply its predominance within the regional tourism market.

Therefore, we have the resources and the necessary drive to place ourselves at the top of tourism and business offerings, of attractions for high-income tourists, as well as those that seek cultural expressions and different forms of ecotourism. and sustainable tourism.

Medical tourism stands out and contributes, with a first-order perspective, to the diversification of the national offer. It is estimated that 25 out of every 1,000 people boarding an airplane in the world do so in search of medical treatment or care.

Moreover, medical tourism promotes the creation of new hospitals with modern equipment, the transfer of technology and the dissemination of knowledge.

It also creates well-paying jobs and reverses the brain drain. It also promotes the transfer of retired people and the acquisition of second homes, with which accentuates the collection of foreign currency and foreign investment.

By requiring compliance with international standards, protocols, and accreditations, the offer strengthens both local medicine and competition based on quality and results.

The evaluations indicate that a medical tourist spends eight times more than the traditional visitor.

Substantial investments from local and international capital are expected for the construction of clinics in Bavaro-Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, and Santiago.

There is already a thriving Dominican Association of Health Tourism. Its leaders deploy systematic actions in the media and through international congresses held in the country.

Since 2017 a splendid medical tourism guide has been circulating around the world: the Dominican Republic Health & Wellness Destination Guide, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and the Dominican Ministry of Public Health.

The Medical Tourism Magazine published this document that now attracts the attention of the country, and places it on the path of success

The so-called ‘business tourism’ encompasses a set of flows whose travel reasons are linked to labor and professional management, which in turn originates meetings, congresses, and conventions of different purposes and magnitudes.

The growing hotel industry and socioeconomic stability offer a unique opportunity to make the most of this tourist modality, which is increasingly present in the Caribbean region.

The Dominican Republic is an excellent place for business tourism. Its tropical climate and the entertainment offers and culture accredit it as an ideal place for meetings.

The new international corporations established in the country in recent years, as well as the growth of the hostelry in the capital and Punta Cana-Bavaro, represent key factors to achieve a greater share of this tourism segment.

Most of the national hotels and resorts have multipurpose spaces equipped with meeting rooms, perfectly equipped for the convenience of the attendees and with the required technology.

The city of Santo Domingo, for example, has 4,000 hotel rooms and some 3,000 more rooms among hostels and tourist accommodations.

In the hotels of the city, there are 127 conference rooms, two convention centers, and more than 30 rooms are available for meetings in museums, historical monuments, and plazas.

Another condition that makes the country an ideal destination is its international linkage, in addition to the infrastructure and local facilities for ground transportation.

Excellently communicated by eight international airports, the Dominican Republic has a direct connection to the most important airport terminals in the world.

Terrestrial communication is also remarkable. A dense network of highways and roads integrally links the territory, and ideal transportation services in buses and taxis simplify the traveler’s stay.

The business tourist spends 3 to 7 times more than the leisure tourist. They occupy comfortable rooms, visit the best restaurants, and performs a series of additional expenses (telephone, minibar, business center, meeting rooms, taxis, etc.) that the leisure visitor seldom performs.

Attracting and convincing this traveler with worldly habits and prominent consumption emerges as one of the most convenient options for the Dominican tourist future.

Now, ask yourself: what would the former King of Spain Juan Carlos I, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump have in common? Simply put: everyone practiced (or even does) golf.

While this sport of Scottish origin appears associated with very high-income economic groups, more than 30 million people (one in every hundred Americans) every year swing across the 15,000 golf courses scattered in the United States (only in Florida there are more than a thousand or so and over 900 in California).

Golfers travel to other places and stay in 4 and 5-star hotels, usually in groups of 20 or 30 and usually, they are accompanied by their families.

It is estimated that a golf tourist spends between 5 and 10 times more than a traditional visitor of sun and beach offers.

The possibilities of increasing the flows of golfers are obvious. In the country, there are 32 golf courses with 9 or more holes, with about 300,000 rounds each year.

In March 2017, the tradition in the country of a PGA (Professional Golf Association) tournament began.

Three fields located in the eastern tourist area appear in the short list of the 20 best in the region: Teeth of the dog, in Casa de Campo; Punta Espada and Corals in the Punta Cana-Bavaro area.

In the north coast, there are also two facilities of a great category: Playa Dorada and Playa Grande. Nothing prevents us from constituting ourselves as the Caribbean golf capital.

The growth potential is 10 to 15% per year, said Teddy de Lara, president of Target Marketing Consultants. “We are putting on the golf suit,” said the president of the Punta Cana group, Frank Rainieri.

Golf, certainly, opens a promising space for the expansion of luxury tourism in the Dominican Republic.

The text was first published in the Dominican newspaper El Caribe. 

Author: Pedro Delgado Malagon