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The Dominican Republic: A land of sensations. (Special Advertising Feature).

At the very heart of the Caribbean, a unique tourism destination welcomes both visitors and investors: The Dominican Republic. Here, a vibrant Hispanic culture fuses with the most beautiful beaches and natural landscapes, a sophisticated resort climate, and attentive, personal service. For visitors from around the world, this is a land of sensations.

With more than 29,000 square miles, the Dominican Republic offers a huge variety of attractions, including nature parks, world-class beaches, cave and rapids adventures, world-class golf, water sports, a varied nightlife, the most exquisite gastronomy and handicrafts, centuries-old cultural and historic attractions and international festivals and carnivals for all tastes.

The Dominican Republic offers countless beguiling beaches, numerous coral reefs, historic attractions, 17 golf courses, six international airports and magnificent all inclusive hotels, a welcoming ambiance and the most caring service in the Caribbean. Here are some of the highlights:

* Santo Domingo stands out due to its five centuries of history, with relics from the age of the conquistadors, museums and colonial building. Come dusk, Santo Domingo enjoys an exciting nightlife and the best cuisine, as a cosmopolitan city that never sleeps.

* To the east, Punta Cana and Playa Bavaro present a paradise of expansive Caribbean beaches and many hotel complexes, the perfect haven for those who seek to leave the world behind in an all-inclusive vacation.

* North of Punta Cana, the Samana peninsula serves as a jumping-off point for the wonders of the Los Haitises National Park and its virgin cays. You can also observe humpback whales in spring and visit the El Limon waterfall.

* To the north, the Amber Coast's 75 miles of coastline include Puerto Plata, founded in 1496; Playa Dorada, a complex of 14 resorts with attractions for families, couples and golfers; Sosua, center of European-style nightlife and a large selection of watersports, including scuba diving; and Cabarete, world capital for windsurfing and kitesurfing.

* With tours to Pico Duarte, the highest point in the West Indies, whitewater rafting on the Jarabacoa River rapids, and excursions through the traditional and folkloric heartland, the roads between Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata present a broad selection of the Caribbean's natural world.

* Casa de Campo is one of the island's most popular places. This 7,000-acre resort lies on the south coastline, with luxury villas, hotel rooms and two Pete Dye-designed championship courses, including the "Teeth of the Dog" course, ranked number one in the Caribbean by Golf Magazine.

* The Dominican Republic's traditional Merengue Festival will be held in Santo Domingo in July, with celebrations also taking place in Bavaro/Punta Cana. Top Dominican and international merengue performers will share the limelight, as well as renowned national folkloric groups, including gagas, perico ripiaos and guloyas.

Meanwhile, the new Merengue Festival and simultaneous Singles' Festival in the Puerto Plata area will feature the best Dominican bands in the fall, playing until the wee hours, with activities and contests planned for visitors.

For more information, contact your travel agent or the Dominican Republic's Tourism Office in your country or see www.dominicana.com.do.

RELATED ARTICLE: Economic Incentives Draw Investors

It's easier than ever to do business in the Dominican Republic. Combined with liberalized investment regimes, political stability and economic incentives, more and more investors are looking to the Dominican Republic as the "pearl" in their portfolio.

Investments in telecommunications and physical infrastructure, successful promotion of the nation as a visitor destination, and government policies welcoming foreign direct investment have already produced results: From 1990 to 2000, foreign investment totaled US$4.8 billion, according to the Central Bank, and the Dominican Republic was one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America in the past two years.

"Our country has become one of the most attractive locations for investment in the region because we have set the course on important tasks like continuing market-oriented reforms, strengthening the rule of law, investing in human capital and taking advantage of the opportunities that openness and globalization provide," says Hip6lito Mejia, President of the Dominican Republic.

Under the dynamic leadership of Tourism Minister Dr. Rafael A. Subervi Bonilla, the Tourism Ministry has been successfully promoting the Dominican Republic in Latin America and around the world. The efforts are paying off. A report by the Central Bank shows a 33% increase in in-bound passengers during January 2003, as the number of non-resident passengers using Dominican airports surpassed 305,000. New flights from Miami and Paris helped increase passenger totals,

The Dominican Republic is also an important cruise destination, with major ports and "private" getaway islands among passengers' top attractions. With 57,000 rooms, the Dominican Republic has the largest hotel room inventory in the West Indies.

The nation's largest new resort development is the 30,000-acre Cap Cana project, with a USS3 billion projected investment over the next decade. Another major project is planned at Sans Souci just outside the capital's Colonial City. In Samana, nearly 200 projects are under way or under study, almost all of them with foreign money.

But while tourism has received much attention, numerous business-oriented projects are planned. The Dominican Republic aims to make it as efficient as possible for foreign businesses to establish themselves on the island.

"The Office for the Promotion of Foreign Investment offers free consulting services for everyone interested in investing in the Dominican Republic, a project portfolio for joint ventures, coordination of visitors' agendas, and a wide range of services to facilitate an informed decision-making process," says Danilo del Rosario, Ambassador/Executive Director of the economic development group.

Details of the largest foreign investment in the history of the nation are being worked out with the United Arab Emirates to develop a megaport at Manzanillo -- a US$4.1 billion project announced in January 2003 that will transform the northern coast town of Monte Cristi over a 19-year period.

The Cyberpark of Santo Domingo, a joint project of the government and local and international investors, will incorporate the best features of technology parks around the world. In tandem with a computer science training center, the park will host high-tech services and manufacturing operations. The park will complement the numerous free trade zones that already attract manufacturers to the Dominican Republic.

Last fall, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investment (UNCTAD) put the Dominican Republic on the list of countries with the greatest potential for attracting foreign investment. Judging from the nation's recent economic success, the future looks bright.

For more information on how your company can invest in the Dominican Republic, please contact the Office for the Promotion of Foreign Investment or see www.dr-opin.com.

Tourism Minister: "We will spare no effort to promote the country's tourism"

Rafael Antonio Subervi Bonilla, the Dominican Republic's Minister of Tourism, a distinguished Dominican official with more than 40 years of public service to his credit, defines as his top priority "to spare no effort to create the conditions necessary to support sustained tourist activity, the basis of our main economic strategy and our social policy."

Q: What plans do you have to promote the tourist industry?

A: Our strategy relies on three fundamental elements: First, a campaign targeting market segments in which we address the expectations of different types of travelers and offer them a preview of what they would enjoy if they visit us. Second, the development of strategic alliances with tour operators and airlines, among others. Finally, participation in all the major travel-industry events worldwide, in conjunction with the private sector.

Q: What kind of growth are you projecting?

A: The Dominican Republic was the first country in the region to recover from the recent crisis in international tourism, having effectively overcome its effects by late 2002. In 2003, we are expecting an average growth of 10 percent, a figure that we are confident will be surpassed by a large margin in places such as Punta Cana and La Romana-Bayahibe. By improving the tourist environment and building up the infrastructure, we will also upgrade domestic tourist destinations, especially extremely popular sites like Puerto Plata, Cabarete and Rio San Juan.

Q: Will the range of choices you offer visitors increase?

A: By building complementary facilities such as marinas, golf courses, amusement parks, aquariums and many others, we expect to diversify quite a bit the choices the Dominican Republic offers tourists. We already enjoy a large influx of visitors associated with eco-tourism, conventions, cultural tourism and purely recreational tourism, in addition to the segment that's looking for sun and beaches.

Q: What does the Dominican Republic offer that other places do not?

A: What sets us apart is the wide range of choices we offer visitors. Our white beaches and warm waters are very special. If we combine that with other options, such as golf, fishing and surfing, the Dominican Republic is the perfect tourist destination.

Q: What incentives do you offer tour operators?

A: The Ministry of Tourism has adopted the policy of striking strategic alliances that include attractive incentives. Using this flexible policy, the Dominican Republic has succeeded in restoring business relationships with many regional operators who had opted out of the market because of a lack of incentives.

Q: What is the revamped role of the Ministry of Tourism in promoting tourism?

A: The Ministry sees itself as the driving and controlling force behind the country's tourist activity, and a goal of the present administration is to develop strategic alliances with the private sector. We have come up with a new system of incentives designed to encourage the development of fresh tourism options to complement those already in existence. In addition, we have stimulated the renovation of the infrastructure - including ports, airports and the electric system - that supports the industry.
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Publication:Latin Trade
Geographic Code:5DOMN
Date:Apr 1, 2003
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