Growth for the Dominican Republic
According to the latest air ticketing data, the Dominican Republic is emerging out of the pandemic better of now compared to the gloomy start to 2020.
“The Dominican Republic is a really good example of how governments should be handling this current Covid-19 crisis as you can clearly see through this chart the peaks and troughs of international arrivals pending on government announcements and the safety measures put in place,” says Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys.
Ponti adds: “The other important point worth mentioning is keeping your borders open. Just like Mexico and other destinations in the Caribbean, intra-regional travel greatly benefited from travellers keen to escape the US.”
Destination Marketing during a Pandemic
Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on the tourism sector in many ways, beyond just halting international flights. In the New Normal, volatility is here to stay, despite the roll-out of the vaccine. Travel restrictions, quarantines and limited seat capacity are taking its toll on where travellers can safely travel which in turn has changed the lead booking times.
“If we look at the whole of 2020, average lead times were 120 days. However, by December, they decreased to the 2019 average of 72 days,” says Juan Gomez, Senior Analyst at ForwardKeys.
In terms of destination marketing, Danny Callaghan, CEO of LATA, says: “Reinstalling traveller confidence must be the priority for all tourism destinations.” He adds: “The consumer attitude towards brands and destinations is changing, something tourism authorities need to factor, to give them the full advantage of recovery once travellers begin to plan their next adventure.”
New Market Opportunities for the Caribbean
Digging deeper into the data at ForwardKeys, two juicy trends emerged regarding key US cities for tourism to the Dominican Republic and more surprisingly, the growth of a new passenger type.
The Dominican Republic has an advantage over some of its neighbours in the Caribbean, a strong market share in the US, not just in Europe (where sadly tougher travel conditions have been put into place). As such it was the sun-seeking travellers from the U.S West Coast that held the most market share. The top three cities being New York, Miami and Boston.
And no, it wasn’t just the VFR segment propping up the travel trade to and from the US. According to the latest Air Ticket Data, in the second half of 2020, VFR accounted for 18% while Leisure took up 73% of the market share. Groups were 8% and Business Travel 2%.
Now, here is an interesting finding. The passenger type per ticket has changed. Previously the destination attracted couples – in 2019 couples made 30% of the market. However, in 2020, it was singles ready to mingle. Or simply seeking to escape the stress of Covid-19 in the US. Indeed, by the 2nd half of 2020, singles or solo travellers took up over 35% of the market share. Up by 10% YoY.
ForwardKeys reached out to the Ministry of Tourism in the Dominican Republic to uncover what they thought was triggering this increase in solo travellers. Liliana Cruz from the Intelligence Unit thinks it’s due to working remotely. “Teleworking in this pandemic has made possible the dream of working from the beach, the mountain, and any other tourist spot. The Dominican Republic has emerged as the perfect destination for that because of the top and robust structure built to protect our visitors. Our Plan for the Responsible Recovery of Tourism includes, amongst other features, full medical and traveller free insurance against COVID-19 and other illnesses for our tourists, rigorous implementation of internationally approved protocols, and the most active policies to preserve the health of our people and our visitors.”
Meanwhile, David Collado, Minister of Tourism of the Dominican Republic commented: “There are a few reasons why the Dominican Republic appeals to single travellers. Firstly, single travellers tend to engage in more activities, so they are attracted by the hiking, kayaking, surfing, wildlife and birdwatching that are in such abundance in the destination. As people return to travel, these socially distant activities taking place in our beautiful, big open National Parks and long beaches are particularly appealing. It’s also a very safe and welcoming country, which is always of key consideration for single travellers. We have globally recognised hotel brands, which give a sense of security for those travelling alone, but also small hotels with a warm family welcome that provide a friendly environment in which to meet other travellers.”
We hope this article has injected some hope and enthusiasm back into your day. It is reassuring to see examples of destinations that are being well managed by their governments and tourism bodies, progressing forward despite the pandemic.