It was only one week ago that the federal government of Canada quietly lifted its advisory against all non-essential travel—an advisory that had been in place since March 2020. Travel agencies have seen an uptick in winter travel bookings, but many Canadians are still easing into the idea of international travel. With this mindset, it might surprise some to learn that the Dominican Republic recorded its best September on record for tourism arrivals—as in, its best-ever September in history.
By the numbers
Plaza España, Santo Domingo | Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
According to the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Tourism (MITUR), September 2021 arrivals were higher than those witnessed in 2018 and 2019.
The country welcomed a total of 365,544 non-resident visitors that month, representing an impressive 14 per cent growth above pre-pandemic levels. The total year-to-date (as of 9/30/21) is pegged at 3.3 million arrivals with holidaymakers staying for an average of seven days.
The data also revealed a hotel occupancy rate of 61 per cent on the weekends, meaning there’s still plenty of inventory for Canadian travellers to lock-in their fall and winter travel.
At Punta Cana Airport, the main gateway to the Dominican Republic, runways were once again a hive of activity. MITUR reported that an astounding 3,694 commercial flights touched down in the Dominican Republic in September with an occupancy rate of 71%, operated by 87 airlines from 90 airports and 43 countries. The top four countries travellers arrived from were the USA, Russia, Spain and Colombia. (Pre-pandemic, Canada would have ranked in among them.)
It’s estimated that October tourist arrivals will continue the trend.
An example of tourism recovery
Cayo Levantado | Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
Dominican Republic’s record-setting arrivals are a vote of confidence, signaling that travellers approve of how the nation has implemented its COVID-19 tourism recovery strategy.
Impressively, 100 per cent of hotel, airport, restaurant and transportation staff have been immunized and currently, a program is underway to administer a Pfizer third dose to all employees in the tourism sector.
In mid-October, authorities nixed the national curfew and restrictions that limited freedom of transit, association and assembly.
Social distancing and mask wearing indoors is still required.
Arrival requirements & procedures
Travellers arriving from Canada do not need to take a COVID-19 test on arrival in the Dominican Republic.
Airports and other points of entry conduct a rapid random breath test on a percentage of passengers and on all those who demonstrate COVID-19 symptoms. Exemptions: (1) children under the age of five; and (2) passengers who present a valid vaccination card or a negative PCR test. Note: vaccination cards must show that three weeks have passed since the cardholder received their final dose; negative PCR tests must have been performed within 72 hours of arriving in the Dominican Republic.
All passengers will have their temperature checked upon arrival.
Are vaccine cards/passports required in the Dominican Republic?
Travellers are not required to present a vaccination card or “vaccine passport” upon arrival at the airport, nor to enter resorts. However, visitors are required to present a valid vaccination card or a negative PCR test in order to enter establishments outside of hotels and tourism complexes. Therefore, travellers over 12 years of age must carry their vaccination card with them when off-resort.
Mandatory new form for Dominican Republic travel
E-TICKET: As of September 1, 2021, all foreigners entering or leaving the Dominican Republic on commercial flights must complete an “E-Ticket,” a free electronic entry and exit form which combines the Traveler’s Health Affidavit, Customs Declaration and International Embarkation/Disembarkation forms. The form is available here: eticket.migracion.gob.do, in English and French:. Travellers then print the QR code that will be generated or present it on a smartphone for scanning.
Returning to Canada
Prior to departure, travellers must provide their home airline and airport with any tests or other related requirements necessary for their return to their home country.
Cosette Garcia, directrice of the Canadian office responsible for the tourism promotion of the Dominican Republic, told Canadian Traveller that most resorts and hotels have the ability to conveniently coordinate PCR tests for travellers returning to Canada.
For more information visit: godominicanrepublic.com
Editor’s note: Given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, protocols are subject to change. This article was published 10/29/2021 and may or may not be updated as needed. For the most up-to-date Dominican Republic travel requirements, visit godominicanrepublic.com/coronavirus.