“Agents love sending their clients here”: Interview with D.R.’s Tourism Minister David Collado
The Dominican Republic's Tourism Minister, David Collado

“Agents love sending their clients here”: Interview with D.R.’s Tourism Minister David Collado

TORONTO — The Dominican Republic’s tourism bounce-back is one of travel’s biggest success stories coming out of the pandemic.

The D.R.’s already-soaring numbers got a boost from Canada starting this past September, when the destination dropped mandatory PCR testing for Canadians.

In fact September was ‘a month to remember’ for the D.R., a record breaker, with a higher number of arrivals than in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

By November, Minister of Tourism David Collado was in Toronto for the D.R.’s second official visit to the country in just six months, with an important message: that Canadians are a key market for the DR and that the government is proactively working to support local partners.

Now as 2023 gets underway, Travelweek is checking in with Minister Collado again to get the latest great news about this much-loved sun destination.

Travelweek: What stats can you share with us that underline the D.R.’s strong recovery from the Canadian market?

Minister Collado: “Since the beginning of the year, more than 600,000 Canadians have made the Dominican Republic their favorite destination. And the numbers continue to climb.  My wish is to become the number one destination for Canadians. The tourism sector is vital. It employs nearly 180,000 people in the Dominican Republic and represents approximately 15% of GDP.”

 

Travelweek: Why do Canadians have such an affinity for the D.R.? What makes the D.R. such a win-win sell for travel agents booking the D.R. for their clients?

Minister Collado: “Prior to the pandemic, the Dominican Republic was enjoying record-breaking tourism numbers with nearly 1 million Canadians visiting in 2019. This made the D.R. the number one destination in the Caribbean for Canadians. Visitors flock here for the sunshine, beautiful, pristine beaches, our rich history, vibrant culture, and fusion-style cuisine.

“Agents love sending their clients here for many reasons, not the least of which is because of our generous flight capacity. There are many direct flights departing from and returning to Canada daily. Agents also love the variety of accommodations available – from the most luxurious all-inclusive to off-the-grid self-catering options, there’s something for everyone in the Dominican Republic.”

Travelweek: What other details can you give us about lift to the D.R. from Canada for this winter?

Minister Collado: “Our air connectivity from Canada has proven to be resiliently strong. There are regular, direct flights offered by Canada’s biggest carriers to Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, La Romana, and Samaná.

“Last week, Sunwing even announced it was adding two weekly flights from Kitchener/Waterloo to the D.R. thanks to a surge in demand. In total, there will be an additional 500 flights to the D.R. from Canada this winter. Travellers across the country will have many options to escape the cold and soak in the sun in the Dominican Republic.”

Travelweek: The D.R. was recently honored by the UNWTO for its recovery and handling of the pandemic. Are travellers to the D.R. feeling good about the safety protocols in place and has this confidence helped with recovery?

Minister Collado: “Earlier this year I was honoured to stand in front of representatives of the United Nations to accept an award from the World Tourism Organization for our successful recovery in tourism. The UNWTO secretary-general highlighted the management and sanitary protocols applied in the Dominican Republic to guarantee safe tourism, thus achieving the most successful recovery of the industry in the entire region, reaching record figures in tourist arrivals. We spared no effort to achieve this recovery and are well-positioned to welcome even more visitors this year!

“Canadian customer satisfaction is very high, with 9 out of 10 exit polls showing guests would return in the future. Hotels and excellent beaches were the elements respondents cited most in customer satisfaction surveys.”

Travelweek: Statistics from Forward Keys show that the D.R. is leading the Caribbean’s recovery. Does that mean that occupancy levels are sky-high, and should travellers keep that in mind if they’re eyeing a D.R. getaway this winter?

Minister Collado: “Data from Forward Keys, an industry reference for global travel trends and insights, proves the unstoppable popularity of both the Caribbean as a region and the Dominican Republic as a preferred destination. In Q4 the tourism numbers are accelerating even further with the Dominican Republic leading the way in terms of overseas arrivals, up a staggering 40% on 2019 levels. My advice to all Canadians: book now to avoid disappointment!

“Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south, our lush tropical island paradise boasts nearly 1,600 km of coastline, 400 km of the world’s top beaches, magnificent resorts and hotels, and a variety of sports, recreation, and entertainment options.”

 

For more information about travel to the D.R. see godominicanrepublic.com.