The Dominican Republic stands out with varied landscapes, architectural treasures and cultural richness
The island nation of the Dominican Republic seduces travellers in every season – just as it seduced Christopher Columbus more than five centuries ago. He didn’t hesitate to call it a paradise island when he landed on its shores in 1492. Present this year at ITB Asia, one of the key activities being promoted is that of MICE.
“The Dominican Republic obviously has everything to attract MICE groups, from stunning white sand beaches stretching over 600 kilometres, majestic mountains cove- red with lush forests and historical and cultural heritage of great beauty,” explains Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García. “But the Dominican Republic also offers other surprises, renowned cuisine, some of the most popular rums, the world’s best cigars and a wide range of eco-tourism activities that will help make your events unique.”
The Dominican Republic’s rich heritage of Spanish, French and African ifluences has told five centuries of exciting stories to its visitors immersed in a breath- taking setting.
To offer visitors the best welcome, the Dominican Republic also provides more than
73,000 hotel rooms, consisting of luxury resorts on the east coast, historic establishments in Santo Domingo, charming hotels on the north coast and the peninsula of Samaná and eco- lodges in the Barahona region and in the centre.
In addition to the large hotels that are well equipped with meeting and reception rooms, the capital, Saint-Domingue, now boasts a new convention centre opened in summer 2016 within the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Occupying 4,500 sq m, it houses three large reception halls measuring 1,300, 1,100 and 900 sq m respectively (for up to 3,700 people), in a beautiful environment overlooking the Caribbean Sea and the capital’s promenade.
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Taking in the Countryside
The country is known to have the most diverse topography for a single nation in the Caribbean region. One can go from a sandy beach to a cool, mountainous town over 500 meters above sea level in less than three hours. The country’s coastline runs for over 1,600 kilometres in total, with hundreds of accessible, breath- taking beaches. More surprisingly, the country is flanked by a series of great mountain ranges, the most important of which–the Cordillera Central–is home to the Caribbean’s highest peak: Pico Duarte, sitting at 3,087 metres.
With 25% of the land consisting of protected areas, most of which are easily accessed, there are a myriad of reasons to venture off the beach. Explore lush valleys, cloud forests, national parks on and off shore, rivers leading to waterfalls, offshore cayes where turtles nest, ancient Taino caves shrouded in thick rainforest, or pine forests with near zero temperatures. Discover natural wonders like Lago Enriquillo, a saltwater lake so large it surpasses the size of Manhattan, home to American crocodiles and sitting at 40 meters (138 feet) below sea level, the lowest point in the Caribbean.
The Dominican Republic is home to 29 national parks. Located all around the country–from the southwest to the north, east, and center–these lush areas are as much of a treasure as the island’s multitude of sandy stretches.
Near the areas of Punta Cana, La Romana, and Bayahibe, visit the Cotubanamá National Park – or Parque Nacional del Este – home to impressive Taino caves, and fresh spring waters. The park includes the offshore islands of Saona, the most important turtle- nesting site in the Dominican Republic, Catalina, and the sandbank of Catalinita, teeming with coral reefs and frigate bird colonies.
Off the coast of Samaná, Los Haitises National Park is one of the most breath-taking sights in the country. A series of giant rocks jut out of the sea, thick mangroves thrive in surrounding waters, and brown boobies and frigate colonies fill the skies. On land, large Taino caves reveal centuries-old petroglyphs and pictographs. The park can be reached by boat from Samaná or by road from Sabana de la Mar, which makes for an even more unique adventure.
Photo: Salto Bayaguana