By Ben KilbeyHans Dannenberg took his new position as Dep. Minister of Tourism for the Dominican Republic on Aug 24 this year. He has been an integral player in the evolution of the tourism model of the Dominican Republic for the last few years - and now that he is in his new role his aims are to continue to assist with the growth and quality of the product. Hans spoke to Caribbean Travel News in this frank and open interview.CTN: What would you like to see changed - what vision will you be bringing to your new position?
Hans Dannenberg: We have to work towards the achievement of sustainability in our tourism development. I believe that the best way to do that is to involve the communities in it; let them know the benefits that the tourism industry can give them and make them conscious of the aspects that tourist usually dislike. Also, I strongly believe in the diversification of markets, looking for tourists from Russia, Japan, Brazil and many others that can increase the number of tourist arrivals to the country and help in the development of the areas that have been lagged behind like Barahona, that has great eco-tourism features.
How is business on the DR - what could be improved and what developments do you have in the pipeline?
The current situation is very good for us due to the fact that we are increasing the number of tourist arrivals every year and currently we are working towards the development of ports for receiving more cruise ships in the island as well as developing eco-tourism zones like Barahona and Constanza because we believe strongly in the benefits of “low impact” and cultural tourism.
What is your stance on sustainable tourism and do you feel the DR opts into that market/practice enough or should more be being done?
For sustainability in tourism you need to care about at least four essential aspects, like protection of natural resources, community involvement, earnings and creation of jobs. The Dominican Republic developed in a first stage focused on massive tourism with “all inclusive” type resorts, if you see the development now is focusing towards boutique hotels in the north part of the country (Sosœa, Cabarete, Puerto Plata); this hotels are of excellent quality (all five stars) and encourage the tourist to go out and explore the community/town where its based.
We have a lot to do for achieving sustainability but we are definitely committed to be sustainable in our tourism industry. With that in mind, all tourism projects for the following 4 years are destined to reinforce the four aspects mentioned above.
How big is your market share from the UK? Is there still large arrivals from Canada and Germany?
Total tourist arrivals for 2003 are as follows: Canada 412,625 / Germany 243,135 / England 171,696. Right now, Europe is our strongest continent market and USA is our strongest country market.
How important do you feel the Internet is in the global marketing, and therefore existence, of the Caribbean region. Do you feel that more should be done to teach smaller properties the benefits of the Internet?
Internet has a great potential for the Tourism Industry and should be considered and used as a tool to capture the attention of overseas travelers. Not only hotel chains established in the DR have web sites with booking engines but also the Ministry of Tourism has an approved project for the building of a better interactive web page with a booking engine inside and complete information of tourist poles in the country and facilities.