Tourism in the Dominican Republic

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Cayo Levantado, Samana.

Tourism in the Dominican Republic is an industry that generates over 5 million arrivals each year.[1] It is an important source of revenue in the country, particularly in coastal areas, the Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean region, and ranks 6th overall in the Americas.[2] Its tropical climate, white sand beaches, diverse mountainous landscape, and colonial history attracts visitors from around the world.[3]

As one of the most geographically diverse nations in the region, the Dominican Republic is home to the Caribbean's tallest mountain peak, Pico Duarte, as well as the largest lake and lowest elevation, Lake Enriquillo,[4] the country is also the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in all of the Americas, located in Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone, an area declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.[5][6]

History of Tourism in the Dominican Republic[edit]

Tourism in the Dominican Republic came very slowly until 1930, due to the political strife and internal warfare that has been present throughout most of the country's history. When the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo came into power, it can be said that tourism in the country began to take another direction, although during the 1930s it was relatively weak; 230 foreign tourists arrived in the country in 1930, perhaps the only recorded tourism statistics in the country, during that time. During the 1940s, Trujillo instructed to foster tourism in the country, thus beginning to promote tourism in the country to other countries, this being the first concrete step to attract tourists to the country.

In 1944 Malecón de Santo Domingo was inaugurated, together with the first luxury hotel in the city, the Hotel Jaragua, which remains open, after this step, new hotel chains were opened, to increase tourism in the city; in the 1950s several hotels were opened, including the Hotel Provincial, which is now a children's hospital; the Hotel la Paz, which is still open, although that is now known as Hotel Hispaniola, which was built a few meters from the city and also, in the Colonial Zone, Hotel Comercial, the first hotel of private capital in the country; the Colonial Zone was fitted out as a site for tourism.

Colonial city of Santo Domingo.

One of the hotels built in that decade was the Hotel El Embajador. Large hotels were also built in the countryside at that time.

In the city of Santiago de los Caballeros, the Hotel Matún was built for tourists; in the city of Barahona, the Hotel Guarocuya was built. Shortly afterwards, the Hotel Maguana was built in San Juan de la Maguana, the Hotel San Cristóbal was built in the province of the same name.

In the cities of Jarabacoa and Constanza, both in the Province of La Vega the hotels Montaña and Suiza, respectively, were inaugurated. In Samaná Province the Hotel Cayacoa was built. Several hotels were built in the Northwest Line of the country, such as the Hotel Caoba in the city of Santa Cruz de Mao, where it was built the Hotel Caoba, located in the Province Valverde and in Santiago Rodríguez Province, where the Hotel Marien was built.

Hotels were also built in the east of the country, which has become the country's main tourist destinatio, this started in the San Pedro de Macorís Province, where the Hotel Macorí was built, while in Boca Chica the Hotel Hamaca was built around the beach; in Higüey the Hotel El Barajo was built and in El Seibo built the Hotel Santa Cruz was built.

At that time, there were more than 1,000 hotel rooms in the country, this advanced the country's tourism industry.

In 1955 Trujillo, carried out the "Fair of Peace and Fraternity of the Free World", which was an international event held in Ciudad Trujillo, now Santo Domingo; with this event, Trujillo sought to show its great progress in physical buildings and show to the world that the Dominican Republic had a society of peace and brotherhood. This fair was extended until 1958.

The invasion of Constanza, Maimón and Estero Hondo, which occurs in 1959, also the crime of Mirabal Sisters in 1960, and the death of Trujillo in 1961, caused many foreign tourists come to visit and to make their investments[clarification needed] in the country. Political instability and social unrest which culminated in the civil war of 1965 and the subsequent military occupation by US Marines negatively affected the tourism industry, the Cuban Revolution and embargo also diverted American tourists to the Dominican Republic.

For this reason and others, it was not until 1966, when Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, who ruled the country until 1978, was elected, that the necessary economic policies to aid the tourism sector were carried out. During this period tourism increased in the country.

In 1968, legislation declared tourism development to be of national interest; in 1969, the National Tourism Bureau was created, which later passed to the Ministry of Tourism (Secretaría de Estado de Turismo). In 1971, the law 153, which spoke of incentives and the promotion to tourism in the country, was promulgated; in 1972 INFRATUR, a financial institution for the development of tourism infrastructure, was created. These events served as a basis for tourism to have a starting point which would then lead to further development. Experts on the subject state that from the decade of the 1970s onwards was the period of development of tourism in the Dominican Republic.

Tourism in the present day[edit]

Souvenir craft.

From the 90s to today, the Dominican tourism has been developed and operated at its fullest, developing more housing complexes, through agreements and foreign advisors. Consequently, the number of hotel rooms in the decade of the 80s was about 8,562 and the 90s was 45,000.

In 1997 arrived by sea around 270,830 tourists from abroad, of which 156,099 used the ports in Santo Domingo, 5,566 did so through the port of Puerto Plata, 108.698 disembarked in La Romana, 404 for Samaná and only 63 cruisers did so in Boca Chica. This figure compared with those of 1996, it shows that in 1997 the number of foreign visitors who used the waterway increased by over one hundred percent.

In 1996 entered to the country by sea 110.936, an amount that increased to 270,380 cruise passengers. Despite not having any financial incentive for ecotourism, this is in its true splendor, it posed above is confirmed by the annual statistics for visitation to ecotourism businesses and protected areas, which exceed 800,000 people. It quote the following data, for the year 1998: total visitors to ecotourism projects was 930,000.

Unfortunately, increasing competition, for example created by the Asian markets, and a change in the motivation of tourists, now forces authorities managing regions, and tour operators to supplement their offer with new options, not based directly on the sun, sand and sea, the Dominican Republic should focus on diversifying its tourism product, so as to prevent elimination from the market by competitors when tourists completely change their preferences by shifting, for example, from 3S to 3E.[7]

Visitor statistics[edit]

Most visitors arriving to Dominican Republic were from the following areas of residence or countries of nationality:[8]

Country/Territory 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
 United States 2,073,963 2,085,186 2,001,909 1,784,486 1,587,404
 Canada 827,721 768,486 745,860 706,394 684,071
 Germany 265,709 259,133 247,613 230,733 214,151
 Russia 245,346 136,249 71,572 180,821 188,110
 France 221,492 232,024 227,483 229,678 232,754
 Argentina 182,170 137,642 133,888 112,489 107,305
 Spain 177,993 169,760 172,245 150,859 142,207
 United Kingdom 177,534 165,111 142,083 126,563 108,236
 Puerto Rico 111,095 121,131 115,084 103,891 74,580
 Venezuela 109,734 170,713 167,176 112,854 75,173
 Colombia 103,444 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total 5,354,017 5,178,050 4,872,319 4,511,062 4,117,493

Advantages and disadvantages of tourism in the country[edit]

Tourism in the Dominican Republic, like other countries, has its advantages and disadvantages in both the domestic market and internationally.


Jobs generated in the area of tourism - Source Merkap República Dominicana.

Tourism offers many benefits to the country, both economically as in the political, social, cultural, etc, some of these could be:

  • Revenues and increases of the country's economy.
  • Exchange of different cultures
  • Generates and increases employment opportunities.
  • Increase of foreign flights into the country.
  • External relationships.
  • Generation of currencies, and currency input from other foreign countries.


Tourism not only offers advantages, but also disadvantages, not only for the country but for all countries, some of these are:

  • Destruction of the fauna and flora of the tourist areas.
  • Waste multiply in tourist areas.
  • The pollution caused by the large number of transportation to the island and during the tourists stay including airplanes, buses, cruise ships and other automobiles.
  • Input and output of harmful products.

Tourism in the 2000s until 2009[edit]

The country's tourism has become the primary industry of income for itself and his major provinces, dedicated to this industrial activity, the country offers a wide choice of accommodations in the city, in the mountains and in the hotels of coastal shorebirds. The Dominican Republic is one of the top vacation places for the countries of the European continent, North America US and Canada and also the countries of South America, this is because the island has a rich history and unique culture, and its people so welcoming and friendly. Also for its great Caribbean beaches and its tropical and unique climate.

The main areas of tourist activity in the country are the regions of the East, North, Santo Domingo and Barahona, but nevertheless, there has been an increase in the interior, with many tours on foot or by bike through the mountains and fields; in 2001 the Dominican Republic was visited by over two million people and according to the Central Bank, the Dominican tourism industry has generated 2,103 million dollars , exceeding 1,782 million achieved in the previous year.

According to Central Bank figures, more than 2.5 million tourists arrived by air to the country in 2001, a 10.1% increase over the figure given in 2000. 58% of tourists came from European countries, mostly countries like Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and USA, were recorded countries like the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and among others.

Tourism is one of the most important sectors of the Dominican economy, because this makes great contributions to it, the movements of tourists to other parts of the country involving expenditure, especially when is from a nation to another, that is the case of the country; Foreign tourists usually consume in dollars or exchange their currency for the Dominican peso, this generates an injection of dollars into the economy and thus the country can buy the services and products that do not produce. The country had revenues in 2004 of 2.557 million euros.

The Dominican Republic, thanks to its geographical location in the Caribbean, has many areas that are exploited for tourism, because of the beautiful beaches that have, as well as its beautiful scenery, the most exploited provinces in terms of tourism are concerned, after the era of Trujillo, are Puerto Plata, La Romana and La Altagracia, also worth noting that the del Este peninsula, is the country's most important tourist area.

Dominican tourism is an issue that is part of the daily lives of its citizens, because it depends largely on the economic livelihood of the same, and their way of life.

Major tourist destinations of the Dominican Republic[edit]

The Dominican Republic is internationally known as "The paradise of the Caribbean" and so, because the whole country is beautiful, both its beaches and mountains, which have a unique natural landscape.

Among the main tourist destinations are:

East Region[edit]

La Altagracia

It is the leading province in the country in terms of tourism, among the most important areas are:

  • Bávaro: This area is located in the east of the Dominican Republic, in the province La Altagracia. According to a report by UNESCO, it recognizes the beaches of Bávaro as the best in the world, so much so that it is along with the beaches of Punta Cana, among the 10 best in the world,[9] Among its more popular and entertaining attractions of the area is the Manatí Park Bávaro, as well as its luxury hotels.
  • Higüey: The city of Higüey is within the tourist destinations in the province, since it is found, the Basilica of Our Lady of Altagracia and Sanctuary San Dionisio; also is the fortified residence of its founder, Juan Ponce de León, which is so visited by foreign tourists and communes and more inhabitants of the country.
A beach in Punta Cana
  • Punta Cana: This resort area of the country is located in the extreme east of the Dominican Republic, and an important part of the main destinations of the world, the country, the region, the province, in conclusion, it is one of the most important places for the realization of the tourism in the country, as Punta Cana is the place where have the most famous beaches in the country. To get to Punta Cana, it can perform in vehicle through the corridor of 179 kilometers long, consisting of the sections of the highway of Las Américas, the Eastern Highway, the Ring of San Pedro de Macorís, the stretch San Pedro de Macorís-La Romana, La Romana Beltway and the Autopista del Coral; Similarly one can go via the Las Américas International Airport, or via the Punta Cana International Airport, which is about 2 km from the town of Punta Cana, where are numerous and luxury 5 star hotels, which enjoy great international prestige. Punta Cana is considered one of the biggest tourist attraction magnets of the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean, as with its more than 50 km of beaches, a hotel infrastructure of excellence and top, also has an international airport size, facilities for all sports, from sailing trips, boats, dinghies, etc., to the benefits of some of the best golf courses in the Caribbean.[10]
La Romana
  • La Romana: One of the main options for foreign tourists when choosing a destination for their holidays. La Romana has many beaches. To get to La Romana, it can through the La Romana International Airport. Some hotels in La Romana include: Casa de Campo Gran Bahía Príncipe La Romana, Hotel Frano, Dejavue and others, also has a luxury spa, which is La Romana Hotel-Spa. Information about Casa de Campo[11]
Church in Altos de Chavón village, a re-creation of old-type Mediterranean village.
  • Altos de Chavón: It is an old-type Mediterranean village built on a height above the Chavón River in Dominican Republic. It is the seat of a Cultural Centre, the National Archaeological Museum, and the called City of the Artists. also has an Notable Amphitheater. There is the famous Altos de Chavón Amphitheater, which has about 5,000 seats, it was opened in 1982 with the presentation of Frank Sinatra and Carlos Santana, many other artists and rock bands have gone through this beautiful scenery as Heart, English Beat, America, Tania Maria, Scandal, Sergio Mendes, Juan Luis Guerra, Michel Camilo, Spiro Gyra, Duran Duran, Aventura, among others. Currently there continue to be throughout the year shows of national and international artists, which tourists can enjoy.
Boat anchored off in Saona Island.
  • Saona Island: The Saona Island is considered as one of the most important trips or sightseeing tours of the country[12] It is considered by the visitor as a natural paradise. Saona Island is about 110 kmª, and is the largest of the 13 adjacent islands of the country, this island offers fine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters. One of the biggest attractions is the "Natural Pool", which does not have a meter deep and it can see aquatic species such as coral reefs, marine meadowss, starfish and fish, the main white sand beaches of Isla Saona are located on the southern coast from Punta Catuano to Punta de Cruz except the area between the southern end of the beach of El Gato to Punta Laguna. The most important places of the Saona are the towns and villages of Mano Juan and Catuano; extensive white sand beaches and coral reefs with very clear waters; coconut trees along the coast, the Secucho lagoons, Los Flamencos and Canto de la Playa, the most beautiful beach,[13] the Alto de la Vigía (the highest point of the island); the Banks of Crowned Pigeon, the Mature Timberlands, cultivated areas and the town of Adamanay.

Saona island belongs to the Park del Este. Along with los Haitises is the most important in the region and one of the main in the country, constituting the only wooded area of relative extension on the south coast of the eastern region; in this protected natural area are preserved semi-humid forests, coastal lagoons, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grasses. Also caverns with cultural values. Contains impressive archaeological sites like remains of indigenous settlements, ceremonial places perfectly preserved, sites of ceremonial offerings, large rock art and sunken colonial ships.

  • Catalina Island: This island is a protected natural park where there are not any buildings.
  • Bayahibe: Bayahibe is also suitable for sharing with family and friends, and is also a common place for golfers and for those who enjoy scuba diving. Bayahibe is the nearest point to take a trip to Catalina Island, Catalinita Island and Saona Island.

Bayahibe has many hotels such as: Catalonia Gran Dominicus, Oasis Canoa, Iberostar Hacienda, Viva Dominicus Beach y Palace, Dreams Romana.

San Pedro de Macorís
  • Juan Dolio: It is located just a few kilometers from the capital city of Santo Domingo and from San Pedro de Macoris. Juan Dolio is currently among the major tourist areas of the country, the town of Juan Dolio is thick with tourism and between its boundaries are several beaches being the most famous the same that bears its name: the beach of Juan Dolio. Juan Dolio Beach is one of the favorite beaches of the tourism sector and national and foreign vacationers. Juan Dolio has access to a good amount of high quality hotels and a wide range of seafood restaurants, clubs, Los Marlins golf course and rent cars services. Hotels in the area of Juan Dolio have all-included packages, a la carte and buffet restaurants, modern spas, trained animation teams, water sports facilities, tour packages and many other elements that make a pleasant stay at the best prices, among the hotels that are in Juan Dolio they are: Barcelo Colonia Tropical, Barcelo Talanquera, Decameron Beach Resort, Coral Costa Caribe, Barcelo Capella, and five-star luxury hotel Embassy Suites.[14]

Santo Domingo[edit]

Cathedral of Santo Domingo, It is the oldest cathedral in the Americas.
Ozama Fortress, the oldest military building of European origin in the Americas
  • Santo Domingo: It is known worldwide as "First City of America, the cradle of civilization of New World", and that is, Santo Domingo. It is a place, that at explore its main tourist area, the Colonial Zone, as its streets, hiding big secrets, as well as its historical monuments, which in its most were built by the Spaniards Santo Domingo. Has many hotels such as the Hotel Jaragua, Barceló Santo Domingo, Hotel Hilton, Hotel Meliá Santo Domingo, Intercontinental Hotel V Centenario Hotel Hispaniola Hotel Santo Domingo, Napolitano Hotel, Hotel Delta, Clarion Hotel, Hotel Ambassador, Hotel Intercontinental V Centenario, Hotel Hispaniola, Hotel Santo Domingo, Hotel El Napolitano, Hotel Delta, Hotel Clarion, Hotel Occidental El Embajador, among other of great national prestige and interncacional[15][16][17][18]
  • Boca Chica: It is one of the most popular places in the Dominican Republic, due to its beach, which is visited by all kinds of tourists, whether domestic or foreign. It is located about 30 kilometers and 25 minutes from Santo Domingo eastward passing the Las Américas International Airport. The beach is surrounded by a large coral reef, has a turquoise blue and the water does not cover up to about a kilometer inside. Sometimes if the tide is low and permits it can walk to an island called "La Matica".[19][20][21][22]

North Region or Cibao[edit]

Santiago de los Caballeros
The Caribbean from Fort San Felipe in Puerto Plata (city).
Puerto Plata
Las Terrenas beach
La Vega
María Trinidad Sánchez

South Region[edit]


San Cristóbal

Barahona (city)
Azua (city)


  1. ^ "Dominican Republic Tops 5 Million Tourist Arrivals". 
  2. ^ "Interim Update" (PDF). UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. UNWTO. July 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Alemanes Son Mayor Grupo De Turistas Europeos República Dominicana". 
  4. ^ Baker, Christopher P.; Mingasson, Gilles (2008). Dominican Republic. National Geographic Books. p. 190. ISBN 978-1-4262-0232-2. 
  5. ^ Colonial City of Santo Domingo – UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved on April 2, 2014.
  6. ^ UNESCO around the World | República Dominicana. (November 14, 1957). Retrieved on 2014-04-02.
  7. ^ Rettinger, R., Apollo, M. (2017). Enriching tour–operators' offer to go beyond sea, sun and sand: The case of the Dominican Republic. [In:] R. Efe, M. Öztürk (eds.), Contemporary Studies in Environment and Tourism, Chapter: 5 (pp.60-81). Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4438-7283-6 Source:
  8. ^ Flujo Turístico Por nacionalidad
  9. ^ Punta Cana and Bávaro are considered among the top 10 beaches in the world.
  10. ^ Punta Cana, one of the biggest tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic
  11. ^ Website of Casa de Campo
  12. ^ Saona Island
  13. ^ Canto de Playa, the most beautiful
  14. ^ Images of Juan Dolio
  15. ^ First City of Ameria
  16. ^ Santo Domingo
  17. ^ Santo Domingo: Cradle of New World
  18. ^ Tourism in Santo Domingo
  19. ^ Images of Boca Chica
  20. ^ Website of Boca Chica Beach
  21. ^ Tourist guide of Boca Chica Dominican Republic
  22. ^ Beach of Boca Chica