Above: Dominican Republic Vice Minister of Tourism Radhames Martinez Aponte (CJ Photo)
By Alexander Britell
PUNTA CANA — After a very strong year in 2014, the Caribbean’s largest tourism destination is continuing its growth so far in 2015.
The country saw a 7.4 percent increase in stayover visitor arrivals in the first quarter of 2015, according to Radhames Martinez Aponte, the Dominican Republic’s vice minister of tourism.
Last year, the country reported 5.141 million arrivals, a 9.6 percent growth rate over the previous year. That was the highest total of any tourism destination in the Caribbean.
While the vice minister cautioned on expecting a 10 percent growth rate again this year, he said the country’s start to 2015 meant it was on a similar growth trajectory.
“The first three months of this year have really placed us on the same path to where we can be optimistic that we can hit 10 percent,” he said at the 2015 DATE tourism conference in Punta Cana.
He also revealed that the Ministry had approved 33 new investment projects for tourism, including the construction of both new hotels and complementary offers.
That follows the debut of a number of new or rebranded hotels in the country in the last year, notably the Gansevoort Playa Imbert, the Sheraton Santo Domingo and the JW Marriott.
The latter properties are both in Santo Domingo, a corner of the country where the government is intent on expanding visitor arrivals.
That’s led to a major rehabilitation of the historic Colonial Zone in the capital, a project which he said was slated for completion in June.