TORONTO — The Dominican Republic saw a high number of tourist arrivals in 2017, with Canadians contributing an impressive 837,104 tourists.
According to the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, total tourism arrivals steadily increased by 3.9% from January to December, reaching a total of 6.8 million international visitors. This number increased by 272,901 more visitors to the DR than the year before. Meanwhile, North American tourists saw an uptick of 2.6% for an additional 77,257.
Air arrivals increased by 4% compared to 2016, with July and December as peak months, with Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) handing over 59% of the total non-resident air arrivals.
Arrivals to the DR by cruise ships increased by 37% in 2017 compared to 2016, representing over 1.5 million visitors. The construction of a second cruise port at Puerto Plata City was announced in December by President Danilo Medina, who also noted major works to the Amber Cove Cruise Ship Port in Maimón and La Puntilla Park in Puerto Plata.
The average hotel occupancy rate in the DR for 2017 was 77.1%, a slight decrease from the 78% rate in 2016, which can be attributed to a higher inventory of rooms. The properties with the highest occupancy rates were: Punta Cana – Bávaro (82.8%), Romana – Bayahibe (82%), and Chica – Juan Dolio (71.4%). The destinations with the highest occupancy rates were: Samaná (67.6%), Santo Domingo (62.4%), and Santiago (56.9%).
According to President Medina, tourism growth will continue in 2018 with an expected 6% increase. To accommodate the increase in demand, a new tourist port in Luperón, Puerto Plata will be built, plus major road renovations are in store, specifically to the East Region Road Circuit, which contributes to nearly 80% of all tourism income.
New hotels and hotel renovations in the DR include the Hodelpa Emotions hotel, previously Heavens Playa Dorada, a 475-room property with 12 restaurants and bars and four pools, and the recently updated Excellence Punta Cana, which reopened after an extensive four-month, US$45 million renovation that saw the addition of 20 suites with pools, two pools, pool bars and a gourmet restaurant.
Also notable is the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana, one of the region’s newest adults-only beach resorts and part of the Royalton Luxury Resorts chain.