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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

ABOUT THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

The Dominican Republic is located on the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Hispaniola is the second-largest of the Greater Antilles islands and lies west of Puerto Rico and southeast of Cuba. Travel time by plane is less than two hours from Miami, Florida; less than four hours from New York City; and about seven hours from Spain or France.

Columbus explored Hispaniola, now shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, on his first voyage in 1492. Founded in 1496, Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, is the oldest European settlement in the Western Hemisphere. Its rich history lives in many historical sites throughout the “Colonial Zone” of Santo Domingo and in other areas of the island.

The major industries in the Dominican Republic are tourism and agriculture. The official language is Spanish. French, Italian, or English speaking Dominicans are mostly found in tourist areas and in Santo Domingo. Ethnicity is 16% white, 11%, black and 73% mixed. The population is estimated to be 9.7 million.

The average temperature is 77°F (25°C). August is the warmest month and January the coolest—yet even then it is warm enough to swim.

POLITICAL OVERVIEW

The Dominican Republic is a politically stable, free and democratic nation.

The President of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernandez, served as President from 1996 to 2000, was elected with a large majority vote to a second term in 2004 and is up for re-elected in 2008. Dr. Fernandez's political agenda has been one of economic and judicial reform and technological development. His administration has been recognized for its respect for human rights and civil liberties and for the economic growth that has occurred during both of his terms. A professor since 1979, Fernandez has lectured at numerous universities, including Yale, and has authored several books and numerous articles about politics, economics, communication, history and law.

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The growing Dominican economy has developed primarily due to a well-managed tourist flow and flourishing agricultural industries. US companies with a presence in the Dominican Republic include Johnson & Johnson, 3M, UPS, Abbot Laboratories, Baxter, Verizon, Citibank, Marriott, Hilton, Remax and Century 21.

The currency is the Dominican Peso (DOP). The GDP growth rate in the Dominican Republic was 5.5% in 2008. During the same time-frame the United States GDP grew at a rate of 1.4% and the European Union at 1.5%. The July 2006 implementation of DR-CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement) is stimulating trade between the United States and the Dominican Republic because $1 billion in taxes and tariffs have been removed for American companies involved in trade with the Dominican Republic.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Along with the Dominican Republic's efforts to attract foreign investors to the country, the government has made significant improvements to its infrastructure. There are 10 international airports in the Dominican Republic. (The newest airport, El Catey International opened in Samana in November 2006.) There are five major highways that go across the country including a new 106 kilometer highway connecting Santo Domingo to the Samana Peninsula.

The Dominican Republic enjoys one of the most highly-developed communication systems in Latin America provided by major companies such as Codetel, Tricom, Orange (France Telecom) and Centennial along with several small providers.

Internet connection and cell phone reception is widely available, especially in the capital city and tourist locations.

TOURISM

The Dominican Republic attracts the most tourist visitors of all the Caribbean islands. Despite the global financial crisis, the Dominican Republic is still posting a 1% growth rate for 2008, down from about 7% in the previous several years. Travel companies in the US and Europe are highlighting the Dominican Republic as a premier vacation destination. The Dominican government has invested billions in tourism infastructure and promotion over the last few years alone.

In August 2008, President Leonel Fernandez appointed a new Minister of Tourism, Mr. Fancisco Javier Garcia. The new minister has doubled the advertising budget, and has launched a new campaign, “The DR Has it All.”

According to the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, hotel occupancy in the Dominican Republic is 71%. During the high season (12/15 - 4/30 and 7/15 - 8/31) hotel occupancy rates are currently as high as 95% in beach destinations. There are only 70,000 hotel rooms available to accommodate almost four million tourists per year. The majority of the tourists visiting the Dominican Republic come by air and stay for a minimum of one week. European tourists' average stay is two weeks. In the next 8 - 10 years, ten million tourists are expected to visit the Dominican Republic, requiring 250,000 rooms.

The major tourist destinations in the DR include Punta Cana-known for it's large, upscale all-inclusive resorts; Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete-tourist areas popular with wind surfers and college students; La Romana and Casa de Campo; and the focus of recent tourist attention, the Samana Peninsula.

The President-elect of the National Hotel & Restaurant Association, Luis Lopez, forecasts that Samana will become the prime Caribbean destination with the opening of the El Catey International Airport. The Dominican Secretary of Tourism is focused on the Samana Peninsula, with the support of DR President Leonel Fernandez, who recently signed a plan to develop and promote the area. The Samana Peninsula is the only region with a government plan in place.

A nature-lover's haven, with lush green mountains and beautiful white sand beaches, Conde Nast Traveler has called the Samana Peninsula one of the 25 best locations in the world.

RIDE THE WAVE OF REBOUNDING RETURNS — invest in the Dominican Republic
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