One on One with the Dominican Republic's Petra Cruz
The Dominican Republic is going stronger as the top travel destination in the Caribbean region, with an annual growth in the number of visitors that is above the world average.
The indicators that support these enviable results include large investments in infrastructure, constant updating and improvement of a varied and high quality product, and clear strategies for opening and seasoned markets.
Caribbean News Digital sat down with Petra Cruz, director for Europe of the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism's Tourism Promotion Office, about the achievements and forecasts of the Dominican travel industry with respect to the German market, the one with the greatest presence in the destination from Europe, with some 220,000 visits per year.
What were the main strategies launched by the Dominican Republic to boost tourism demand on the European continent and how did they really work in the German market?
With an ongoing marketing program in B2B and B2C, we positioned the advantages of the Dominican Republic in our home markets. This includes proactive press work, participation in trade fairs and events, as well as accompanying advertising campaigns that pursue our strategic objectives. In addition, we work closely with partners (e.g. travel agency chains, airlines and tour operators) to generate attention with marketing campaigns in various media. Ongoing training of distribution partners also plays an important role here.
The Dominican Republic was a pioneer in identifying niche markets before any other Caribbean or Latin American country. Are you satisfied with what you have achieved so far?
In any case, especially in the area of golf, family vacations, MICE and wellness, we were able to set very strong accents here and establish the Dominican Republic as the top tourist destination in the region. This allowed us to open up new target groups and strengthen the perception of the country as a high quality travel destination.
Why did you decide to work so aggressively in the Russian and German markets and could the economic benefit they bring to the Dominican Republic be considered significant?
The German travel market is particularly interesting for the Dominican Republic because the Caribbean has a very special place in this country, travelling once to the Caribbean is still a dream for many Germans.
Besides the sun, the beach and the sea, the focus is increasingly on getting to know the country and its people: the number of trips to the interior is constantly increasing. There is great potential for the local economy here.
The German traveler also attaches great importance to a good price-performance ratio, which the Dominican Republic can offer with its perfect combination of experience, natural beauty and excellent hotel product.
Due to our long presence on the market, the Dominican Republic is also excellently represented in the offer of German tour operators. Travel agencies, for whom we organize many training courses and large-format information trips, often know the destination like the back of their hand and can provide the customer with perfect advice.
In 2019, Santo Domingo was recognized as the capital of Caribbean gastronomic culture for the second consecutive year, which is an opportunity to promote the Dominican Republic, too, as a gastronomic destination in the region. Is this a strategy that will continue in 2020?
Definitely the culinary theme has a very important role for travelers, even if it is not the main reason for choosing a specific travel destination. Basically there is still a lot of potential here. That is why we are especially pleased that the Dominican Republic will be present for the first time this year at the Chefs' Olympics in Stuttgart and can bring the culinary diversity of our country closer to an international audience.
How will the Dominican Republic be represented in the main tourism fairs that will be held this year? What role will the Dominican Republic play in ITB Berlin?
The Dominican Republic is represented in all the main tourism fairs in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. At the Messe Wien Fair in January 2020, we were a special focus as a partner country. At the ITB, which takes place in Berlin at the beginning of March, we will again be very present.
An important focus here is on the topic of sustainable travel, for which there will also be a conference on Friday morning as part of the sustainability forum in Hall 4.1b. In addition, we will give visitors an impression of the diverse and living culture of our country with dance performances, rum tastings and much more.
The leading role that the Dominican Republic has achieved in the number of European visitors was not accidental, but is the result of the hard work of the Ministry of Tourism in advertising with you at the top. What does this experience mean professionally and personally?
Before working in the ministry, I had many years of experience in the tourism industry. But working for my country or representing such a beautiful and diverse destination is a great honor for me. We have 9 tourism boards in Europe with professional teams that do everything possible to position and maintain the Dominican Republic as the number-one travel destination in the Caribbean.