The Dominican Republic has been seeing a strong recovery in international travel in the past few months. With record-breaking arrival numbers reported in April, many parts of the country have welcomed more travelers than before the pandemic. Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, is no exception. Although the Dominican Republic is mainly known for its tropical beaches and warm weather, its capital is one of the oldest in the region. Home to some of the country’s top museums, as well as the historic Colonial City district, the capital is attracting tourists thanks to its rich culture and history.
The Dominican capital of Santo Domingo is becoming an increasingly popular destination for travelers thanks to its long history, high-quality food scene, and the recently-announced renovation of the Colonial City district. The city has seen an uptick in cultural and sports events, as well as concerts and conferences. The hotels in the capital area have reported a surge in bookings, with occupancy rates reaching pre-pandemic levels.
Santo Domingo has nearly 8000 hotel rooms available, of which nearly 100% are currently open for bookings. Around half, 4000, belong to established international brands, whereas the remaining 4000 are private rentals. It was recently reported that hotel rooms have seen an occupancy rate similar to that of pre-pandemic levels.
This is in line with a report by the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic according to which tourists are increasingly booking private rentals rather than hotel rooms. With online services such as Airbnb, guests are opting to stay in local apartments for a glimpse of Dominican hospitality.
According to Yudit García, head of the Santo Domingo Hotel Association, “the Dominican capital is seeing 100% of its hotel capacity in use. Santo Domingo has regained and strengthened the number of large events, as well as cultural and sports activities and concerts for all kinds of audiences”. The removal of all COVID restrictions as well as a rebound in international travel is helping fuel demand for more outdoor events.
Santo Domingo is also working to improve the state of its major tourist attractions as well as the city’s infrastructure. Participants from the city’s tourism organizations – including museums and city officials – want to highlight the area’s rich cultural heritage. Among the goals is to integrate modern technology to create immersive experiences by using virtual reality. The Ozama Fortress will be the first major museum to receive an upgrade, followed by the Cathedral Museum.
The city also wants to improve the walkability of its streets. The Colonial City is home to some of the oldest buildings in the Dominican Republic, with narrow streets and outdated infrastructure. Set to begin this September, the renovations include installing overhead electrical wires and water cables underground to make the area more visitor-friendly.
Another major milestone for the city has been the launch of the WEB GPS for the Colonial City district. The new app allows visitors to do their own walking tour of the city’s oldest streets with the help of an audioguide. Relying on GSP to guide users through the city’s winding streets, it offers a convenient way to discover the city’s cultural heritage. Available in various languages, the app brings a modern touch to one of the oldest cities in America. The Colonial City neighborhood is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its remarkable history which spans centuries. For now, the guided tour includes 25 attractions including the cathedral, the first in America. The city is expected to continue to invest in its cultural and historical attractions to help diversify the local tourism industry.
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