Spotlight On: Yudit García

By Jorge J. J. Martínez

Today we’re headed to the Dominican Republic to speak with Yudit García, president of the Santo Domingo Hotel Association (AHSD) and general manager of the  Courtyard By Marriot Santo Domingo.

The AHSD intends to be a voice for local hoteliers, with Yudit at the head of the 2021-2023 board of directors. Yudit has worked with Marriot International for 15 years in different properties.

“I am a passionate hotelier, and my lifelong motto is to love and to serve. I adore the industry because it offers versatility. Tourism is charismatic by nature and allows you to connect. So, how do you spread positivity? We work in an industry based on feeling; it’s the experience that counts,” she said by way of introduction.

When I asked her to define Santo Domingo in three words, she chose: “safe, genuine, and hospitable.”

Santo Domingo is betting on the MICE segment

Santo Domingo is the oldest colonial city in the Americas. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich heritage: the city is home to the first cathedral built on the continent, among other historical buildings. It has excellent air connections and is renowned for its gastronomy, culture, dance, music, and the joy of its people.

“Yes, we can hold events. This is not a myopic approach, the reality will mix with the hybrid, and it is even cost-efficient. But some things won’t change: the connection is always vital, we’re betting that it will continue in Santo Domingo, and we’re ready to create the mix the way the client wants it,” assured the president of the Santo Domingo Hotel Association.

The destination has 4,000 hotel rooms throughout 30 properties. Practically half of the hotels have facilities for meetings and events, with rooms that can accommodate between 1,500 and 3,000 people maximum.

The Malecón area is home to the largest and most specialized MICE hotels, as well as the modern MIREX Convention Center, the main venue for major events in the Dominican Republic. It has a surface area of 4,500m² and hosts around 3,700 people in its three large meeting rooms.

“We have not turned our back on the MICE segment as an association; we have carried out activities to show our confidence. Since before the pandemic, MICE has been one of our cornerstones, and even more so as of 2021, and we want to strengthen the Santo Domingo brand. We are already taking the necessary steps for a convention and visitors bureau,” informed Yudit García.

The Dominican Republic is in full tourism recovery

Tourism in the Dominican Republic generates more than 15% of the GDP, so they quickly and efficiently adapted to the new protocols and reopened borders. So far, in 2021, they have welcomed 1.6 million tourists (the annual average before the pandemic was 4.9 million).

“Our President, Luis Abinader, has a strong academic background in hospitality. It has been easy to connect with that mindset because he knows the industry. His actions demonstrate this, and together with the Minister of Tourism, David Collado, he has been the manager and main ally of the country’s tourism sector, successfully leading the process of tourism recovery”, concluded Yudit García.

One of the more frequently mentioned benefits was the free insurance for travelers who arrived in the country during the pandemic through July 2021. This date was met, but there is a possibility of extending it, given the confidence that this action inspired in visitors. In addition, the government facilitated all PCR testing.

 

Vaccination of tourist personnel in the country has been vital in creating sanitary bubbles for groups visiting the island. In Santo Domingo, 70% of the hotel sector is already vaccinated.

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