The year 2019 was a tough one for the Dominican Republic. With almost three million Americans and one million Canadians (that’s a phenomenal 1 in 35 Canadians!) regularly visiting each year, it has been a top Caribbean sun destination – and Canada has been one of the country’s most important tourism markets.
Then, as advisors well remember, the Dominican Republic was hit by a storm of negative publicity due to sensational media reports of so-called mysterious deaths of travelers to the country. By fall, American investigators had come to the same conclusion as local authorities: The deaths were not mysterious, nor was there any threat to visitors.
But the damage to the country’s reputation had been done. Many advisors reported their clients were reluctant to book vacations to the Caribbean’s second-largest country.
This year, the Dominican Republic strikes back, with an unprecedented New Year charm offensive on Canadian television.
“Come Visit My Dominican Republic” is a miniseries of 10, half-hour TV episodes that “explore the best of the Dominican Republic through the eyes of its locals. In each episode, guides share insider travel tips and introduce their culture through music, dance, art, architecture, and more,” according to Abdalah Castillo, director of the Tourism Promotion Office for the Dominican Republic.
“We want to inspire wanderlust by introducing Canadians to the beauty of the Dominican Republic. From the comfort of home, visitors can enjoy unique cultural experiences like the famous La Vega Carnival (one of the biggest carnivals in the Caribbean), surfing in Cabarete, and traditional Dominican music.”
The paid program, in partnership with Citytv Toronto, runs Sundays at 9 a.m. for 10 weeks from Jan. 19, through the height of the winter season, when many Canadians reach out to travel advisors to book sun vacations.
“What better way to bring the experience of travel to the Dominican Republic to life than through visual storytelling?” Castillo explains about the decision to invest in broadcasting a series on television. “TV is a great platform to connect with Canadians and inspire travel dreaming from the comfort of home. Also, viewers can watch the episodes online. Plus, we’re giving away two all-inclusive trips for two including airfare and accommodation!”
Broadcast throughout the population-dense province of Ontario, episodes can also be viewed online to find the clues to enter the contest at www.comevisitmy-dr.ca.
The trip for two is courtesy of Air Transat and the Dominican Republic.
The series’ TV broadcast and online contest are exclusive to the Canadian market, and it is hoped they will excite Canadians to book trips to the country.
Castillo sidestepped the question of whether the unprecedented decision to invest in broadcasting the series on TV is in response to last year’s negative publicity.
Instead, he pointed out that the production of “Come Visit my Dominican Republic” is part of a strategy launched four years ago, with annual productions of “high-quality visual material that goes beyond our beautiful sandy beaches.” Previous projects have included virtual reality and short-format content; as well as the current, 10-part, long-format series. Castillo said production has already begun on the second season of “Come Visit My Dominican Republic.”
And he confirmed the TV and online series is not the only initiative the Dominican Republic is undertaking to promote positive stories of travel and encourage viewers to book trips to the Dominican Republic this year.
“In addition to this series, we’re leveraging the power of social media to showcase the #TheRealDR and our established and emerging destinations,” Castillo said.
He praised travel advisors for their continued efforts to keep booking travel to the country, and promised additional support for the trade as well.
“We value their support tremendously! Our Canadian travel agents are extremely important. In addition to more support throughout the year, along with our travel partners, the Ministry of Tourism is designing more opportunities, including fam trips to showcase the various regions,” Castillo said.
He said advisors are invited to tune in over the coming weeks to “Come Visit My Dominican Republic” to discover new magic about the destination. And they are encouraged to share news about the TV broadcast or the link of the series online to re-inspire their clients about one of Canadians’ favorite escapes from winter.
Advisors can also visit the official Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism website at www.GoDominicanRepublic.com for more information about beach destinations and beyond-the-beach travel to the country.