WHY IT RATES: The trip was part of ongoing efforts to instill confidence in the American Traveler in regards to travel to the Dominican Republic. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer
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Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) hosted a four-day trip in Punta Cana for nearly 60 travel advisors in an effort to revitalize tourism in the destination and instill confidence in the American traveler.
The educational trip, which ran from September 9–12, included visits to multiple hotel properties, local tourist attractions and shopping venues.
It also included a panel discussion with six different Dominican Republic government officials and dignitaries, and presentations by seven different hoteliers, each examining safety concerns and actions taken to combat negative perceptions of the destination amid recent media coverage.
The exclusive panel discussion, held on September 10th at the group’s host hotel, TRS Cap Cana, a Palladium Hotel Group property, included government officials and key dignitaries from the Dominican Republic:
—Ramon Ramirez (Manolito), city mayor of Bavaro-Punta Cana
—Coronel Osvaldo Perez Feliz, police and security of Bavaro-Punta Cana
Ruddy Perez, director of the DR Tourism Board
—Samuel Cueto, representative of the Ministry of Health
—Jose Alarcon, vice president of the DMC Association
—Ernesto Veloz, president of the Hotel and Tourism Projects Association (ASOLESTE)
Coronel Perez Feliz kicked off the discussion with a presentation highlighting security enhancements and technology implemented by the Dominican Republic, such as the CESTUR mobile app. The app empowers tourists by connecting them to rapid response units at the click of a button. Representatives from the Consular office and other government luminaries were also in attendance.
Senior leadership representing seven hotel partners of FCTG also delivered presentations that addressed consumer concerns around key issues such as:
—Food and beverage guidelines and practices
—Staffing vetting and hiring processes
—New policies, procedures and property enhancements that ensure traveler safety and comfort
Participating partners included:
—Casa de Campo Resort and Villas
—Iberostar Hotels and Resorts
—Karisma Hotels and Resorts
—Palladium Hotel Group
—RIU Hotels and Resorts
The unprecedented assembly of dignitaries and hotel partners opened dialogues with travel advisors and will play a key role in shaping communications between travel advisors and customers as the industry works to bolster travel bookings and reignite consumer interest in the destination.
“The recent media attention questioning the safety and security of the Dominican Republic has sent a ripple effect felt throughout the travel industry,” said Randy Alleyne, president of leisure brands for Flight Centre Travel Group, U.S. “As leaders in this space, and as an organization who has greatly benefited from tourism in the Dominican Republic, we have an obligation to the destination to not only support them through this challenging time, but also lead the charge in reassuring the American traveler that DR is still the tropical oasis they’ve come to know and love.”
To further enhance the advisor experience on the trip and increase their destination knowledge base, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the Majestic Mirage each hosted the group for dinner and after-parties, complete with live entertainment and remarks from hotel leadership, further strengthening relations between FCTG and its affiliated hoteliers.
Each of these two properties also spoke to the group about hotel security and safety measures deployed by their brands.
To bolster advisors’ local expertise, the experience included an all-day excursion off-property, at the Scape Park at Cap Cana, an adrenaline-packed adventure park that includes everything from ziplines to waterslides and from waterfalls to underground swimming caves.
The group also enjoyed a visit to Punta Cana’s new Blue Mall, for shopping and end engagement with local artisans.
Ground transportation and in-destination excursions were provided by Discova (formerly known as Olympus) an affiliated DMC of Flight Centre Travel Group.
The group was encouraged to celebrate and share their experience on their personal social media pages, under the hashtag, #DRSuperfam, which will help advisors’ individual personal and professional networks see the destination through the eyes of the advisors, thus shifting the optics to a more positive view of the Dominican Republic.
SOURCE: Flight Centre Travel Group press release.