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The Dominican Republic the Caribbean holiday destination of choice

The Dominican Republic had an impressive 2012 leading its regional peers on the number of visitors with approximately 4.5 million air passengers, a large proportion of which arrived at the Punta Cana International Airport. However, not willing to rest on their laurels, the government is aiming for 10 million annual visitors by 2023, as a result there has been an increase in investment in areas outside of Punta Cana.

The Dominican Republic the Caribbean holiday destination of choice

The Dominican Republic was the most popular Caribbean holiday destination in 2012 with 4.5 million air passengers.

The feat was made more impressive with 256,175 more visitors to the Dominican Republic in 2012 compared the previous year despite the economic downturn that has resulted in a decline in visitors from Europe and the closure of several airports as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Key source markets that boosted the island's 2012 figures included South America (Venezuela, Chile, Peru and Columbia), Russia and Puerto Rico.

Much of the success of the Dominican Republic's tourism industry has been underpinned by the popularity of destinations like Punta Cana and Cap Cana with holidaymakers. Punta Cana International (PUJ), one of six airports on the Caribbean island, welcomed a remarkable 61 per cent of all arrivals in 2012.

The island's tourism officials have stated that they aim to achieve a target of 10 million visitors annually by the year 2023. In order to achieve this growth, officials will be investing in diversifying the Dominican Republic's tourism product beyond Punta Cana.

At the start of the year, the $400 million Costa Norte tourism complex was launched with Dominican president Danilo Medina on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony. The complex is said to be the largest to be built in the province of Maria Trinidad Sanchez and the north cost since the 1970s.

Other developments include the $1.3 billion, 500- acre El Cabo Rojo resort under development along the island's southwestern coast. Other destinations like La Romana are also expected to attract a growing number of travellers in the coming years.

Differentiating itself from destinations like Punta Cana- known for a plethora of all inclusive holiday resorts and a heavy focus on sun, sea and sand, La Romana is hoping to build its reputation as a leading destination for those visitors keen on an eco friendly Caribbean holiday.

Speaking of what makes La Romana unique, Ana Garcia-Sotoca Pascual, executive director of the La Romana- Bayahibe Hotel Association stated the following in a recent interview with Caribbean Journal; "we have some places like the Chavon River, which are very strong eco-tourism destinations. We have islands - Saona, Catalina, the national park - one of the biggest in the country - we have places like Altos de Chavon, unique in the country. So there are many things that make us different than any other destination".

With so many investments on stream and the strong marketing efforts for which the Dominican Republic is known, the island remains the one to watch in the Caribbean region.

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