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Juan José Hidalgo

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Tourism

Unique Experiences

Executive President, Grupo Globalia

Bio

Born in 1941, Juan José Hidalgo has a wide range of business experience in various countries around the world. In 1991, he headed a group of investors to acquire Air Europa, a company operating regular flights. Through this, he broke up Iberia’s monopoly over domestic flights in Spain. Today, he is Executive President of Grupo Globalia, a leader in the tourism sector.

"Visitors can enjoy beautiful beaches and landscapes, and soon there will also be a good motorway network."

Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic, was the first Caribbean destination your company incorporated into its portfolio in 1987. How has this country contributed to the growth of Grupo Globalia over the years?

Overall, it has been a very successful story with a lot of satisfaction, much effort, and many investments. We have a large corporate structure in the Dominican Republic and 4,000 employees, for whom I would do absolutely everything. Over the years, we have reached an investment level of around $400 million.

The Dominican Republic in particular, and the Caribbean region in general, is the main destination for 14% of Air Europa’s international passengers. What are the future prospects regarding these touristic destinations?

Air Europa will maintain its daily flights from Madrid to both Santo Domingo and Punta Cana, as well as some other specific flights to Puerto Plata. Currently, we are analyzing and exploring the possibility of diverting some of our operations to La Romana.

“Visitors can enjoy beautiful beaches and landscapes, and soon there will also be a good motorway network.”

What will the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner bring to the company’s fleet?

It will be part of a unique experience for our customers traveling to and from the Dominican Republic. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is considered the plane of the future; it is much more comfortable, quieter, and consumes 30% less fuel. When traveling on it, passengers should be reminded that they are certainly traveling in the most modern aircraft available on the market. At least two of the eight such aircraft that the company owns will be flying between the EU and the Dominican Republic.

Air Europa started flying to Puerto Plata in June 2011. What are your future expectations for this destination, and how would you assess the results up until now?

We have high hopes about Puerto Plata’s present and future. We own two hotels that are practically new, with the most advanced technology and modern settings, and we currently have direct flights to Puerto Plata from Madrid. We are putting great efforts into internationally promoting Puerto Plata through our Travelplan network and Halcón Viajes, as well as through tour operators in the US, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and basically all the countries where we work. I must say that it is not an easy task, for the competition is tough.

Be Live Hotels, the group’s hospitality chain, launched a tour around several American countries in 2011 to present its new image in the Caribbean. Which countries do you focus your efforts on?

Our image is currently associated with quality and the perception that our hotels transmit feelings and sensations, as well as the culture of the country where we operate. Currently, our investment in hotels is greatly focused on the Dominican Republic, a country where we own establishments. Elsewhere in the Americas and the Caribbean region, we only manage the hotels.

Do you think the franchise business model can work well in the Dominican Republic?

My answer is clear; why not? We would be delighted to franchise the brand under high-quality standards. We would have higher commercial volumes, and applying economies of scale, we would certainly be more competitive.

In your opinion, what are the main competitive advantages of the Dominican Republic as a destination compared to its tourism competitors?

The Dominican Republic is a sweet and kind country, in which everybody is looking for the best way to assist you. And they do so with sympathy and really good work. That already makes the country stand out when compared to other destinations. In addition, visitors can enjoy beautiful beaches and landscapes, and soon there will also be a good motorway network. In my opinion, it is an ideal country that lies only four hours away from the US by plane. I believe that it certainly has a bright and promising future ahead.

© The Business Year – November 2012

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