PUNTA CANA — The news coming out of this year’s Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) comes as no surprise to Canada’s travel industry, but is welcome just the same: now is the perfect time to promote travel to the Dominican Republic, a popular destination for many in this market.
For the first time in two years, DATE was live and hosted travel agents, suppliers and media from all over the world to provide an update on the latest and what to expect from the D.R. in terms of tourism. DATE took place at the Barcelo Bavaro Grand Resort, with business meetings, discussions, and updates that help build up the DR’s tourism.
“Canada is a very important market to us. Canadians have been coming here for years and we know that they love coming down to the Dominican Republic. We were disappointed that the opening of the Canadian market took so long, but we’re glad it’s open and we are all ready to receive those Canadians ready to travel. The Canadian market represents a bit more than 10% of our total demand, roughly 600,000 Canadians, so right now we have been talking to Canadian tour operators and promoters and they are very bullish in terms of the demand that Canada has and for the D.R.,” Rafael Blanco Tereja, President of ASONAHORES told Travelweek.
DATE kicked off with an agreement signed between David Collado, the D.R.’s Minister of Tourism, Luis Abinader, President of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Blanco Tereja, President of ASONAHORES and representatives from Air Transat, Sunwing and Air Canada Vacations to promote new air routes that will increase capacity to the D.R. from Canadian gateways.
Tereja adds, “With our agreement signed with Sunwing, Air Canada, and with Air Transat, we are very confident that the tour operators and local agencies will be able to push the D.R. as a market, so we think travel to the DR from Canada will most definitely pick up.”
Another strategic air alliance with Canadian was the celebration of the signing of a major commercial alliance between WestJet and BDExperience, part of the Despegar Group’s agency for excursions, receptive services and DMC (Destination Management Company).
WestJet Vacations’ Regional Manager for the Caribbean, Tanya Louise Flandol Chal was on hand for the agreement, along wth Rosangel Rodriguez Brenes, Destination Director of BDExperience.
Ready for the relationship between the Dominican Republic and Canada to keep growing, Rodriguez Brenes said: “For BDExperience, this new alliance represents a very important step in the growth strategy in a market as relevant to us as Canada. Our priority is to offer an excellent, personalized and differentiated service to passengers, through the organization, marketing and operation of the best experiences.”
Flandol Chal said the partnership is part of Westjet Vacations’ mission to offer Canadian passengers a high-quality standard of destination management service and transportation. Canadians can expect to receive exceptional service from BDExperience in its partnership with WestJet in travelling to the D.R., she said.
“Travel advisors can rely on the quality of service their clients will receive. They will be informed on everything they need, they will know they are being taken care of and it is important for them to feel confident in their travel experience,” she added.
Juan Tomas Diaz Infante, President of BDExperience, said the company is confident that the D.R. “will focus on diversifying markets by establishing commercial ties with Canada and Latin America so that more and more travellers have the opportunity to explore the benefits of Dominican Republic.”
Despegar, through its BDExperience business line, has state-of-the-art technology, a varied portfolio of more than 200 products at destination and more than 35 years of experience in operation and first-class service.
D.R. RESORT RENOVATIONS
Coral Costa Caribe
The 24-hour all-inclusive resort Coral Costa Caribe, located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea at Juan Dolio beach, has been fully renovated, and offers an ideal environment within reach of the city.
Located just 20 minutes from Las Americas International Airport and 40 minutes from the historic city of Santo Domingo, Coral Costa Caribe allows travellers to have access to the charms of the city of Juan Dolio, nearby cities, and all of the amenities and experiences available within the resort.
Ricardo Felip, VP of Coral Hospitality Corp, says that its newly renovated facilities make Coral Costa Caribe an excellent choice for those wishing to take a well-deserved vacation or to celebrate an event. “With totally renovated facilities, an extraordinary dining experience and the beautiful beach with a spectacular natural reef and white sand, which, added with the proximity to the city of Santo Domingo, makes it the best destination for everyone.”
The resort has 447 family rooms with ocean, garden or pool views. Guests can enjoy three specialized restaurants, unlimited beverages, a snack bar on the beach, nightclub, sports bar, gym, spa, children’s club, two pools and a jacuzzi.
Westin Hotel & La Cana golf course
Also announced during DATE: upcoming renovations for the Westin Hotel and La Cana Golf Course, located within Punta Cana Resort & Club.
Renovations to the Westin include the complete remodelling of the Brassa and Anani restaurants, new bars, and the construction of two new themed restaurants: a steakhouse and Asian-influenced cuisine.
In addition to these renovations, there’s a plan to expand conference rooms adding two new meeting rooms with a capacity for 150 and 400 people. The new layout will allow for subdivision into four smaller rooms, including a new open terrace for those attending conferences, conventions and social events.
Planned renovations include 200 hotel rooms with upgraded furnishings, stylish new ambiance and modern technological equipment. Also highlighting the transformation of the lobby Bar, Pool area, and new gazebo on the beach perfect for weddings, photo sessions and special events.
The first stage of the room remodelling is set to begin June 27, 2022. The hotel will be closed Sept. 1 – Oct.15, reopening October 16.
Not only will the Westin be receiving upgrades, but Hiram Silfa, Director of Golf Courses at Puntacana Resort & Club, says the remodelling of the La Cana golf course (nine holes at Tortuga Bay) includes a new landscaping for the entire golf course, with renovation and change of sand in the bunkers, the reconstruction of tees and greens, new irrigation systems in each hole and the replacement of the grass with a new hybrid paspalum variety in each of the holes on the course. There will also be a repositioning and addition of bunkers on multiple holes on site.
SUSTAINABILITY IS KEY
Also part of the celebrations at DATE was a signing agreement with Inka Matila, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program in the Dominican Republic and Rafael Blacnco.
The aim of the signing of the joint project was to implement practices, tools, and methods that provide sustainable tourism to raise the quality of the market.
“We are focusing on promoting more business models that are more sustainable with more concrete measures,” said Matila.
“CANADA IS VERY IMPORTANT TO THE D.R.”
One message Blanco Tereja had for Canadian travel agents?
“Travelling to the DR is safe and we also have an amazing product. Throughout the pandemic we have been recognized by the PanAmerican Health Organization, the WHO, by the World Travel and Tourism Council and by the WTO that we are a safe destination and we have been one of the best at handling the pandemic and that our process of reopening has been safe,” he said.
“We have been receiving excellent demand from the other markets and we are waiting for the Canadian market to come back because Canada is very important to the DR.”