Last week, we discussed what the Punta Cana Promise was. This week, we see what travel experts think about it.
If you want to convince travelers that the Dominican Republic is a safe place to vacation to, most advisors would agree that the best method is to visit for yourself and broadcast to the world the fabulous time you had.
And that’s exactly what fourteen top Caribbean travel specialists recently did. Travel advisors and other industry experts were recently on hand in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for travAlliancemedia’s travFORUM program, which invites top travel specialists around the globe to promote a destination via social media, one-on-one interviews, a filmed roundtable discussion, and other press. The event was sponsored by Apple Leisure Group Vacations, the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, and travAlliancemedia.
Here’s what the agents and other industry representatives had to say about safety in the D.R., why the D.R. has perhaps the best value any Caribbean island has offered in years, why hosting an event like the travFORUM is the best way to combat fake news, and more.
TravelPulse (TP): What is the most misunderstood thing about the D.R.?
Roshine Varghese (RV), co-owner of Travel Tom in Washington, D.C.: The issue of safety and crime in the Dominican Republic has been inflated in the news and makes visitors cautious, but safety should be a concern no matter where they are visiting. When the news first broke about the incidents that happened recently in the D.R., there were many assumptions made, but further investigation by the F.B.I. validated the findings by the D.R. authorities that all the tourists died of natural causes.
Patrycja Kobak (PK), an advisor with OK Travel Agency in Chicago: People don’t understand that the media only reports on things that will bring in viewers, that will up their numbers. When we started hearing about issues in D.R., the media coverage was enormous. Every news outlet talked about people dying on the island. Once the F.B.I. announced the results of their investigation, there was hardly any media coverage on the topic. Why? Because it wasn’t shocking enough and not breaking-news material.
Caitlyn Gambino (CG), owner of Aum Journeys in Michigan: The most misunderstood thing about the D.R. is that it’s just a sun-and-fun destination and not a place for adventure, local culture, and immersive experiences. If more people were able to see the side of the D.R. that we did, I think people would stop regarding it as just a party destination full of all-inclusives, and more of a unique cultural experience.
Brandon Smith (BS), sales manager at 417 Travel in Springfield, Missouri: The most misunderstood thing about the D.R. is that there isn’t as much to see and do outside of the resorts. The truth is there isn’t really a downtown to go to like there is in other islands or most Mexico destinations. However, over the past ten years, I have seen more and more activities being added to the area from the Saona Island excursion, to the Outback [Adventures] safari and, most notably, Scape Park in Cap Cana.
Dan Callahan (DC), director of marketing/business development for travAlliancemedia: The most important thing I found out personally is that people mistakenly think it’s not safe to leave the resort property. The people that live [in the D.R.] are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered in the Caribbean and they absolutely love tourists. Experiencing the real country by visiting the local towns is critical. By doing that in the D.R., we learned what most people who attended the travFORUM already knew: there is no safety concern going on in the D.R.
Check back next week to see who these travel experts think are the perfect clients to visit the Dominican Republic.