RSSArchive for April, 2009

Minister Presents Eco-tourism and Infrastructure Developments

BAVARO, PUNTA CANA –  The Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) held in Punta Cana April 20-22 drew international tourism buyers and media to the Dominican Republic (DR), the Caribbean’s “It” destination for natural beauty, amazing eco-tourism and a growing wealth of sophisticated hotels and resorts.

During the country’s annual tourism conference, Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia stressed that the government will continue its strong investment in DR tourism infrastructure including building the Atlantic Boulevard in Puerto Plata, the revitalization and development of major highways and roads, and an “even deeper commitment to ensuring that the natural beauty of the DR is sustained for generations to come.”

Garcia announced the DR’s long-term commitment to developing beautiful, well-lit urban spaces where tourists can walk among shops and restaurants while experiencing the friendly culture and easy-going lifestyle of Dominicans.  He noted the urban space developments will take place in cities like Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo and Samana. Garcia also highlighted the concerted effort by the country to revitalize roads and build new highways, including a highway from Santo Domingo to Samana that shortens drive time from 5.5 to 2 hours and a planned highway from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana that will shorten the drive from 3.5 to 2 hours.

In addition, cruise tourism to the DR is growing with the newly opened Sans Souci terminal in the port of Santo Domingo and more cruise ships are regularly stopping in Samana and La Romana. He also noted that a study is underway to develop the port in Puerto Plata.
Referring to the global economic crisis, Tourism Minister Garcia said, “We have applied creativity to this situation, implementing increased advertising and promotions and signing new and expanded agreements with tour operators. We are opening nine new tourist offices including six in the U.S. and three in Europe, intensifying our presence in many international key markets while also working with airline partners to increase and maintain airlift to the DR.”

“Our country continues to attract international projects and capital from around the world. Savvy investors realize the DR is a very safe investment for tourism business,” he said. “Our tropical sunny climate, world-class seaports and marinas, eight international airports and growing list of upscale hotels and resorts are not going away. Our stunning coastal areas and the annual appearance of humpback whales in Samana, our unspoiled beaches, pristine mountains, and inland rivers and waterfalls are not going to go away.”

The DR is taking a multidisciplinary approach to tourism, business and environmental issues.  “The public and private sector are working hand-in-hand creating new projects that make sense for our environment, businesses and especially our families’ and visitors’ well-being.”

In addition, First Lady of the DR Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez presented the DR’s innovative national Responsible Tourism program at the conference and asked the tourism industry to stress quality over quantity. The DR’s Responsible Tourism efforts will incorporate both public and private sector support to encourage the country’s growing tourism industry to create and support programs that provide jobs for deserving families and sustain the DR’s unspoiled natural beauty. For more information, visit:

During the event, Garcia also highlighted a special approach to sustainable tourism developments in the DR’s southwest region, noting the area is the most bio-diverse territory in the Caribbean. There are plans for an educational institution near Baharona that will study the wealth of species, fauna and flora in the southwest with over $900 million being invested into innovative sustainable tourism developments in the southwest that could serve as global models.

DC fire chief grilled on donations to Sosua

WASHINGTON — Reporters and the DC City Council have been trying to find out who in the city is behind an unusual deal sending a surplus fire engine and ambulance to the beach resort Sosua in the Dominican Republic. Answers have been hard to come by.

DC Fire and EMS Department Chief Dennis Rubin was the first on the hot seat in front of Phil Mendelson, the chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. As part of a regular budget hearing, Mendelson wanted to know why the department sent Deputy Chief Ronald Gill Jr. to Sosua for 6 days earlier in the year. Gill is in charge of fleet maintenance for the department.

Chief Rubin, who said he was unaware of the trip until after the fact, takes responsibility for the fire department’s actions and is sorry the trip was made. Assistant Chief Alfred Jeffrey gave permission for Gill’s travel as part of a delegation of city employees. Jeffrey was unable to tell Mendelson who else from the city went to Sosua and who in the city government approved the trip or the donation of the fire equipment.

The donation was made through the group Peaceoholics which works with young people in the city in an effort to curb violence. After the donation was made public Peaceoholics co-founder Ron Moten ordered the equipment returned to the city. It had made it as far as the Port of Miami.

Rubin and Jeffrey indicated this deal was in the works before either man was appointed to their positions in the department.

In one of a number of testy exchanges with the fire officials, Phil Mendelson said the answer to why Chief Jeffrey approved the travel defies logic and wanted to know why the assistant chief didn’t ask more questions.

The whole deal is now part of an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General. Mendelson believes there may be a conflict of interest because he says that office approved the emergency rule making allowing Peacoholics to be given the fire equipment.

From: Dave Statter