The Dominican Republic is aiming to welcome more than 7 million tourists in 2022, according to the country’s Tourism Minister, David Collado.
That would be an all-time record for the country, and easily the largest total in the wider Caribbean region.
The destination had a strong month in January, with more than 500,000 travelers coming to its shores — although it will have to do even better than that to meet the 7 million mark.
Collado, who was speaking at the latest edition of the country’s DATE, or Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange, conference, said the number would have been higher in January if not for a host of canceled flights from winter storms in the northeast.
In 2013, also at the DATE conference, the country had set a goal of reaching 10 million annual visitors by 2023; and if not for the pandemic, it might have neared that number next year.
But even amid the dramatically-changed travel situation globally, the country continues to outperform, buoyed in party by the Caribbean’s most liberal entry protocols (there is no entry test required to visit the Dominican Republic).
To reach the 7 million number, the country will have to see a rebound from Canada, one of its strongest source markets.
But Collado says the Dominican Republic is also seeing a more diverse tourism visitor, including strong improvement out of the Colombian market, which sent 20,000 travelers to the country in both December and January.
“We are compensated with other countries,” Collado said. “Russia has compensated. In December 2019, 22,000 Russian citizens arrived, in December 2021, 52,000 arrived, and in January the same thing is happening.”
Reaching the 7 million milestone will also entail broadening the country’s tourism hubs beyond Punta Cana, something the Dominican Republic has been working on for several years.
Most of those efforts have focused on Santo Domingo, which has seen very strong growth in recent years, driven by broad new airlift.