The growth of the tourism sector in the Dominican Republic has not only marked a post-pandemic recovery, but also the arrival of foreign visitors and non-resident Dominicans is growing at a higher rate than in previous years.
In this process, Dominicans residing abroad have had a notable participation, since, in fact, they represent little more than a fifth of tourism in the last five years.
In 2022, the arrival of tourists by air was 7,165,387 people, 11.1% more than those who visited the Dominican Republic in 2019, prior to the pandemic, when it reached 6,446,036.
But, what is the weight of Dominicans residing abroad over tourism? When talking about tourists, foreigners and non-resident Dominicans who visit the country are counted.
According to official statistics from both the Ministry of Tourism (Mitur) and the Dominican Central Bank (BC), last year non-resident Dominicans represented 18.9% of the number of visits, with 1,358,050, while non-resident foreigners they added 5,807,337 people.
In the two years prior to the pandemic (2018 and 2019) Dominican tourists were 14.4% and 15.6%, respectively, while in previous periods they averaged between 9% and 12%.
But when adding the number of tourists arriving in the Dominican Republic in the last five years, one has that of the 27.7 million visitors during that period, non-resident Dominicans add up to 5.4 million, to represent 21% of the visits.
This indicates that more and more non-resident Dominicans are motivated to visit the Dominican Republic as tourists in months other than December, when the greatest influx occurs, because they tend to celebrate Christmas festivities with their families here.
Currencies and proportionality
The authorities of the Ministry of Tourism have reported that last year the contribution of foreign currency from this sector to the Dominican economy would have reached a record sum of US$8.6 billion (the calculation includes remaining contributions from cruise passengers who disembarked on the way and consumed something on the country).
In any case, the proportionality indicates that if the arrival of more than 7.1 million tourists implied the generation of foreign currency for US$8,600 million and that Dominicans represented 18.9% of the visitors, then their contribution in foreign currency would have been US$1,625.4 million.
That amount could be added to the contribution of Dominicans residing abroad by sending remittances each year, which in 2021 totaled 10.402 million, while in 2022 they would be exceeding US$10,000 million.
Tourism not only generates foreign exchange with the arrival of foreign visitors and non-resident Dominicans each year, but also in terms of direct foreign investment (FDI) in the country.
According to BC statistics, during the last decade, from January 2013 to September 2022, the Dominican Republic has received remittances in the order of US$26,789.3 million.
Of that amount, US$7,247.5 million have been allocated to tourism investment projects, which indicates a 27% weighting of that economic sector.
To this accumulated amount of FDI in the tourism sector, a good part of the US$4,359.2 million of real estate investments during the same period should be added, since many real estate projects are for tourism, although the data is not quantified.
The Dominican Government and the private sector actively participate each year in the International Tourism Fair (Fitur 2023), which this year presents its 43rd version in Madrid, Spain.
The objective is to strengthen the negotiations, contacts, meetings and promotions of the Dominican Republic to attract more investment in the tourism sector.
Although the idea of promoting the fair is more to show the Dominican Republic as a suitable attraction for foreign visits, and in order for tour operators to promote more trips to this nation, the related business sector also seeks to do business related to attracting investment.
Hence, the main financial entities in the country, especially Banco Popular, participate in Fitur every year, since many of the investment projects in local tourism require loans from local banks.
In Fitur 2022, President Luis Abinader participated as an effort to recover tourism after the effects of the pandemic. For this year, the Dominican vice president, Raquel Peña, is present at the largest tourism fair in the world.