Personal interview :dominican republic tourism office for spain.

Mary de Soto is the vicedirector of the DR tourism for Spain and Portugal. By Samuel Rius

-How is the economic situation in the country?

The dominican republic economy is seen as a reliable one and enjoys the trust of foreing investors because of its political and economic stability.
However the DR is still a not so developed and rich country and its gdp and income is still low compared to other countries in the region.

-Which economic sectors are the important ones?
Well, the DR is very famous for the tourism sector. Almost all the attention and efforts made by the government are related to tourism industries and sectors. Its economy is based almost entirely in the tourism sector.
There are other fields like agriculture in which they are able to be self sufficiency with a little margin export oriented. Its famous the tobacco and cacao cash crops.

-Could you give some percentages related to tourism economy?
Well, its hard to tell numbers but I can tell you that we have around 3.340 million euro last 2011

-how is the economic crisis affecting RD tourism?
Surprisingly the economic crisis is not harming the tourism sector. The increase of money spending has grown 3.5 % in 2011 and the number of tourist is growing around 5,2 %. The key of this success is the diversification of markets and the growing demand from russia, china and latin america.

-What kind of tourism exists in the country?
Beach, golf cruise ships, gastronomic, religious, adventures, eco tourism, scuba diving.

-Which one is the most important and the most attention receiver.?

Beach tourism is actually the most important. Then golf and cruise but we are trying to improve the adventures eco tourism and gastronomy as they are more environmentally friendly and high percentage of money spend remains in national hands.

-How is the quality of the infrastructures in the dominican republic?

The quality of the roads and airports is improving mainly in the eastern part of the country due to tourism investment and the necesite to hand the big flow of tourist and working personnel.
The money is coming mainly from private investors however this is influencing the conditions of the locals.
There  is a spanish founded hospital in punta cana that deals with many of the tourist problems and diseases.

-After having investigating a little I have found that DR is a hub for drug trafficking and smuggling. What can you tell me about this?

All the countries in the world have problems dealing with border control, however the DR has established several covenants to patrol alongside USA, UK, France and other caribbean countries to hold more control. However the western part of the sea around cuba is somehow less enforced.

-It is also true that a big part of the investment is holded by foreign actors. Could you explain the positive effects and the negative ones?

We are interested and we need foreign investment as we lack of own resources to create new tourist industries. However this is carried away by a contract in which after years of private property the state gets the whole property back. Then we can decide if they want to take control over it or let the company operate the resort. We also give attractive offers like tax exemption in the first years and several others.

We haven’t experienced bad effects yet.

-How are the conditions of the workers? It is positive to them so many tourism?

The workers in the tourism sector are in general in better condition than the rest of the country. They enjoy long term employment, food and bed included so they can send the money to their families. There is social security but it doesn’t cover so many things so many of the population have their own private insurances.

-There is a complicated issue about prostitution in the DR? What can you tell me about this?

Prostitution within the resorts is strictly prohibited. to get into the resorts You must have a bracelet in your wrist. Persons without it are not allowed at all. Outside the resort the tourist is responsible for his behaviour.

-What about environmental pressure?

There is a lot of pressure however.The different government agencies are collaborating hard to analyse and fix the problems. However the are a lot of issues still to improve.

-Does the government have any kind of intention to change the situation?

Well the government has plans to even go further in the tourism sector and try to make the profits stay in the country as much as possible.

-What are you doing to improve the conditions of the locals?

we are trying to improve the education of the workers and have more control over the laboral conditions of the workers (minimum wages, worked hours..)

-How is the relation with other neighbours?

Well actually we work together in the tourism sector. There are associations to cooperate in this field lile the caribbean tourism association. There are joint plans related to tourism. For example there are holiday offers in which you can visit more than one country so at least you can have a glimpse of the region.
They go all together to international congresses like one block. However our first concern or major preoccupation is haití. Is one of the poorest countries in the world and we are also poor but comparatively richer. We can not afford to help the country economically.  there is some international pressure towards us to finance them. There is also a lot of uncontrolled immigration because the border with them is very permeable so is quite difficult to control. We think there is at least 2 million working in our country without permission. 


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