Dominican Republic: a safe destination for tourist amid the pandemic

The new coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on tourism, health, commerce, education, and multiple sectors, resulting in the confinement of entire cities and the closure of borders.

Regarding public health, recent official reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that there are more than 130 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2.8 million deaths, the largest number of them in the United States, Brazil, Russia, India, United Kingdom, Spain, and France.

In the presence of such a global crisis, the countries developed their own strategies to address it, considering the recommendations of international organizations and each exhibiting different results. The most developed nations that hold the greatest health infrastructure took the hardest hit, which leaves a lesson about the importance of strengthening prevention and early treatment systems for infectious, contagious, and chronic non-communicable diseases.

The Dominican Republic is recognized as a country with a low fatality rate and good response capacity to COVID-19

The Dominican Republic shows about 255 thousand cases of COVID-19, about 214 thousand recovered, and 37 thousand active cases, with a mortality rate of 1.31%.

According to the statistical publication OurWorldInData, the Caribbean nation is among the countries with one of the lowest mortality rates in America and when compared to European countries such as Italy, Spain, and Germany.

Currently, the Ministry of Health reports an 18% hospitalization occupancy of the beds destined for patients with COVID-19. Regarding intensive care units, the occupancy is around 32%, and the total use of ventilators is 24%.

Thes date is solid and allows us to differentiate and position ourselves as an attractive, competitive, and safe destination for travelers, given our installed capacity to respond to issues related to the pandemic and the biosecurity measures established throughout the value chain of the tourism sector.

New York Times recognizes Dominican vaccination plan

The New York Times predicts that only four countries in the Americas will be able to vaccinate their population during 2021: the United States, Chile, Uruguay, and the Dominican Republic. The statement represents an encouraging outlook for the health of our population, the reopening of the economy, and tourism.

The State’s vaccination plan, Vacúnate RD, is made up of three phases that the country must exhaust step by step, prioritizing the vulnerable citizens and people with diseases and risk factors. To date, more than a million doses have been placed. The intention is to vaccinate 7.8 million people over 18 years of age, so 15.6 million doses will be needed. So far, more than 21 million doses of vaccines have been purchased.

For these purposes, intramural vaccination spots have been established with health entities that offer specialized care to patients in risk groups and elderly stays. Likewise, extramural spots made up of fixed vaccination posts located in strategic places in the different communities, as well as mobile posts to reach hard-to-reach communities.

The World Tourism Organization praises the Dominican Republic for managing tourism in the pandemic

The Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, Zurab Pololikashvili, stated that the Dominican Republic is an example of tourism management and responsible protocols in times of COVID-19, allowing it to attract international tourists and provide health security. This represents a great boost for the government and for the country as a tourist destination.

The new tourism management model exhibits internationally endorsed biosecurity protocols, including a tourism assistance plan that protects our visitors. In the same way, Dominican tourism has been upgraded for sustainability, with the digitization of services and licenses, a tourist intelligence and data system, the signing of important agreements to protect the environment, and a beach recovery plan.

The Dominican Republic is positioned in the top 5 of the most sought-after destinations on Expedia

We started the tourist recovery, going from 50 thousand tourists in August 2020 to 230 thousand tourists in March 2021, for an increase of 217%, opening new markets, activating 179 regular flight routes, 500 new flights operated by more than 90 airlines, strengthening trust thanks to the health protocols implemented in hotels and the health measures implemented under a public-private partnership. The Dominican Republic has more than 44 thousand hotel rooms operating across the country and an occupancy increase from 16% to 60%, which allowed the country to position itself in the top 5 of the most sought-after destinations on Expedia, an online travel agency responsible for bringing more than 1 million tourists to the country.

Safe Tourism Assistance Plan

Following the guidelines of President Luis Abinader, the Ministry of Tourism, the Reserve Bank, Reserve Insurance, and the Association of Hotels and Tourism (ASONAHORES), developed an innovative assistance plan for tourists who visit the country’s hotels, providing them with the coverage for medical emergency situations, including those related to covid-19, offering care by specialists, medicines, medical transfers, repatriation, hotel expenses due to forced rest due to hospitalization, legal assistance, among others, from September 15th to December 31st, 2020. Due to its success, it was been extended until April 30th, 2021.

Among the measures contained in the Traveler Assistance Plan, promoted in a public-private alliance, the Ministry of Public Health has a capacity of 11,000 daily tests and allocated 400,000 PCR tests for those travelers who need to present a COVID-19 test for return insurance to their countries.

Members of the Dominican Association of Health Tourism are key pieces in the recovery of the sector

The Dominican Association of Health Tourism (ADTS) groups the main health centers of the Dominican Republic located in tourist destinations and promotes best practices, international accreditation, and operational excellence. The ADTS member health facilities have international departments and have specialized areas for the care of COVID-19 and play a central role in the prevention and treatment of local and international patients during the pandemic.

In the Punta Cana / Bávaro area, you find the Punta Cana Medical Center, internationally certified by Accreditation Canada, which offers emergency services, complex surgeries, COVID-19 express tests and delivery in less than 24 hours for local and tourist demand. It has outpatient clinics in five hotels in Bávaro, two in Bayahibe, three in Cabarete, and two in Puerto Plata, for the immediate care of tourists who show symptoms of COVID-19 or require testing.

In addition, the Hospital International Medical Group (IMG) is a third-level health center built and equipped with high-end technology that follows international standards. Likewise, HOSPITEN and outpatient centers such as Punta Cana Doctors, among others, are among the main ones of the zone.

In La Romana, the Central Romana Medical Center is a modern three-level hospital in the process of international certification and with state-of-the-art equipment.

In Puerto Plata, the Bournigal Medical Center, from Grupo Rescue is the most modern private clinic on the north coast of the country. Let us remember that in 2019 the United States Consulate in the Dominican Republic delivered a certificate of appreciation to the Bournigal Medical Center “for its unwavering dedication and professionalism in providing world-class medical services to US citizens in the Dominican Republic”, as stated in the consulate plaque delivered to the center’s authorities.

In Santo Domingo, where 27-30% of travelers usually arrive, you find CEDIMAT and its Cardiovascular Center, the General Hospital of the Plaza de la Salud, three health centers that hold more than 500 beds and international departments with vast experience in managing health tourists. Also the Abreu Clinic, Hospiten Santo Domingo, among others.

In Santiago de los Caballeros the Santiago Metropolitan Hospital (HOMS) has played a main role in the management of COVID-19 patients and tourists assistance, and a vision of starting the construction of a hotel and professional tower to complement its services to the international community. It is also worth mentioning the Clínica Unión Médica Norte and the Clínica Corominas for their role during the pandemic.

The low positivity rate and its low mortality rate from COVID-19, the Safe Tourism Assistance Plan, the mass vaccination plan underway, our public-private alliances of the health and tourism sectors where it’s worth recognizing the work of the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Public Health, and ASONAHORES, the health measures and protocols in our main tourist destinations, and its network of medical centers of excellence that are members of the Dominican Association of Health Tourism are solid proof that the Dominican Republic is the safest tourist destination in the entire region.

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