Riding the Wave


The Dominican Republic has entered 2013 on the back of significant tourism investment the previous year. In 2012, Ps16.6 billion was invested in the industry, 4.5% of the total amount […]

The Dominican Republic has entered 2013 on the back of significant tourism investment the previous year. In 2012, Ps16.6 billion was invested in the industry, 4.5% of the total amount invested across the economy. As calls for a wider support base for the tourism industry continue, investment is expected to rise by 3.3% per year over the next 10 years. Upgrades to the country’s airport and port infrastructure will support the increasing amount of incoming guests, more and more of whom are arriving for eco-tourism and outdoor activates alongside the country’s traditional beach-going tourist profiles.


In 2012, international visitors arriving through the Dominican Republic’s seven international airports rose by 5.9%; 3.9 million touristspassed through the country’s international airports compared to 3.7 million in 2011. North America continues to be the largest source market of tourists, and in 2012 made up 55% of international visitors, a 10.3% increase on the previous year. The US provided 1.4 million visitors in 2012 and Canada sent 689,000.

Overall, Europe generated the second highest number of visitors, with 28% of the total over 2012. The major European source markets include France (245,000), Germany (183,000), Russia (163,000), Spain (156,000), the UK (95,000), and Italy (89,000). South America has become the third most important market to the Dominican Republic, contributing 11% of total visitors over the same period.

Leisure is the number one reason for visiting the Dominican Republic, with those just looking to unwind accounting for 94.7% of spending in 2012, a figure that is expected to rise by around 3% per year to Ps340.5 billion in 2023. Business travel spending contributed Ps14.1 billion in 2012 and is expected to rise by 5% per annum over the next 10 years.

It isn’t just foreigners who are taking advantage of the country’s tourism infrastructure, with domestic tourism accounting for 26.7% of revenue in 2012. Domestic tourism spending is on an upward curve, and is expected to grow at a faster rate than foreign visitor spending over the coming decade.


Las Américas International Airport serves the capital of the Dominican Republic, overseeing the arrivals and departures of 3.4 million passengers each year. The airport, operated by Aerodom, is a three-level terminal complex, and recently underwent a $25 million facelift. Some 24 airlines serve the airport with flights from North and South America and Europe. The North Terminal, supported by a 3,355-meter runway, can simultaneously handle four A380s. Las Américas International Airport is the nation’s second busiest airport after Punta Cana International Airport.

Punta Cana International Airport is located on the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic. Operated by Grupo PuntaCana, the airport serves 3.9 million passengers annually. The airport currently serves 53 different airlines and has three terminals for international, domestic, and private flights. The airport was expanded in 2011 with a new runway, air-traffic control tower, and 40 new check-in stations.

Growing tourism offerings and increased international interest have also not gone unnoticed. In December 2012, Air Europa announced it would double its weekly Madrid-Santo Domingo flights to 28. Santo Domingo’s Las Américas International Airport will also see new direct flights to Aruba, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Czech Republic, and Brazil in 2013.


A long-term program of port construction and redevelopment will likely underline the country’s cruise tourism industry in the coming years, securing the continued growth of incoming passengers—in 2009, this figure passed the 500,000 mark for the first time, with stops made at the Sans Souci and Don Diego terminals in Santo Domingo, the Port of La Romana in the southeast, and the Samana Peninsula in the northeast. In the same year, passengers from 400 ships are estimated to have spent $80 million while exploring the country.

By 2014, however, cruise ships will have a new destination. Miami-based Carnival Corporation and Grupo B&R are to develop a $65 million Amber Cove Cruise Center in the Dominican Republic’s Bay of Maimon near Puerto Plata in the nation’s northeast. The new cruise shipping facility represents one of the largest cruise shipping investments ever made in the Caribbean country. The 30-acre waterfront property will feature retail stores, bars, and restaurants. The to-be-developed, two-berth cruise terminal will accommodate up to 8,000 cruise passengers and 2,000 crewmembers daily. It is expected to host more than 250,000 passengers in its first year of operations.

It is the port of Santo Domingo, however, that has been the country’s primary cruise destination. Located on the Ozama River, the port boasts berthing facilities on both banks. The Don Diego Terminal boasts a 435-sqm North Wing used as a transit reception area. The South Wing, doubling as transit reception area and homeport terminal, has an 820-sqm access hall. The San Souci Terminal, on the other hand, is a multi-purpose private port. The port caters to both turnaround and transit visitors and is able to handle nearly 3,800 passengers plus crew and can accommodate Eagle-class ships.

Moving ahead, the country’s expanding tourism infrastructure will continue to cater to more and more leisure, eco, and adventure tourists. For the Dominican Republic, this means increased retail spending and more gainful employment for the population across the board.

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