Tourism is fueling the Dominican Republic’s economic growth. For example, the contribution of travel and tourism to employment is expected to rise from 550,000 jobs in 2008—14.4% of total employment or 1 in every 7 jobs—to 743,000 jobs—14.2% of total employment or 1 in every 7.1 jobs by 2018. With the construction of projects like Cap Cana, San Souci Port in Santo Domingo, and Moon Palace Resort in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic expects increased tourism activity in the upcoming year. Ecotourism has been a topic increasingly important in the nation, with towns like Jarabacoa and neighboring Constanza, and locations like the Pico Duarte, Bahia de Las Aguilas and others becoming more significant in efforts to increase direct benefits from tourism.
Services and transportation
Main articles: Transportation in the Dominican Republic and List of airports in the Dominican Republic
Boeing 737-800 at Cibao International Airport in Santiago
Main article: Communications in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has a well-developed telecommunications infrastructure, with extensive mobile phone and landline services. Cable Internet and DSL are available in most parts of the country, and many Internet service providers offer 3G wireless internet service. The reported speeds are from 256 kbit/s / 128 kbit/s for residential services, up to 5 Mbit/s / 1 Mbit/s for residential service. For commercial service there are speeds from 256 kbit/s up to 154 Mbit/s. (Each set of numbers denotes downstream/upstream speed; that is, to the user/from the user.) Projects to extend Wi-Fi hot spots have been made in Santo Domingo. The country’s commercial radio stations and television stations are in the process of transferring to the digital spectrum, via HD Radio and HDTV. The telecommunications regulator in the country is INDOTEL (Instituto Dominicano de Telecomunicaciones).
The largest telecommunications company is Claro Codetel, a provider of wireless, landline, broadband, and IPTV services which is part of Carlos Slim Helú’s América Móvil.
Indotel reports that as of June 5, 2009 there are more than 8 million phone line subscribers (land and cell users) in the D.R., representing 81% of the country’s population and a fivefold increase since the year 2000, when there were 1.6 million. The communications sector generates about 3.0% of the GDP. Indotel reports 6,807,831 prepaid and just under a million (994,027) post-pay (under-contract) cell user accounts. For fixed phone lines (non-cell) it reports 678,901 dedicated lines in use for residential services. For business lines it reports 266,341. For public phones/services it reports 13,639. As of the second quarter of 2008, there are no more analog lines in the trunk services by local providers. Indotel reports 2,439,997 Internet users in the country for the end of March 2009.
In November 2009, the Dominican Republic became the first Latin American country to pledge to include a “gender perspective” in every information and communications technology (ICT) initiative and policy developed by the government. The Dominican Republic is leading Latin American governments’ thinking around gender and technology as part of the regional eLAC2010 plan. The tool the Dominicans have chosen to design and evaluate all the public policies is the APC Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM).
Electric power service has been unreliable since the Trujillo era, and as much as 75% of the equipment is that old. In some places the power goes out every day. The country’s antiquated power grid causes transmission losses which account for a large share of billed electricity from generators. The privatization of the sector started under a previous administration of Leonel Fernández. The recent investment in a “Santo Domingo-Santiago Electrical Highway” to carry 345 KV power, with reduced losses in transmission, is being heralded as a major capital improvement to the national grid since the mid-1960s.
During the Trujillo regime, electrical service was introduced to many cities; still, almost 95% of usage was not billed at all. Around half of the Dominican Republic’s 2.1 million houses have no meters and so most do not pay or just pay a fixed monthly rate for their electric service.
Household and general electrical service is delivered at 110 volts alternating at 60 Hz; electrically powered items from the United States work with no modifications. The majority of the country has access to electricity. Still, in 2007 some areas have outages lasting as long as 20 hours a day. Tourist areas tend to have more reliable power, as do business, travel, healthcare, and vital infrastructure. The situation improved in 2006, with 200 circuits (40% of the total) providing permanent electricity, as 85% of electric demand overall was met and blackouts were reduced from 6.3 hours per day to 3.7. Concentrated efforts were announced to increase efficiency of delivery to places where the collection rate reached 70%. The electricity sector is highly politicized. Some generating companies are undercapitalized and at times unable to purchase adequate fuel supplies.
Main article: Highways and Routes in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has five major highways which take travelers to every major town in the country. The three major highways are DR-1, DR-2, and DR-3, which go to the northern, southwestern, and eastern parts of the country, respectively. There is a new, 106-kilometer toll road that connects Santo Domingo with the country’s northeastern peninsula. Travelers may now arrive in the Samaná Peninsula in less than two hours. Most routes interconnecting small towns in the country are unpaved, but improving.
The Santo Domingo Metro is the first mass transit system in the country, and second in the Caribbean and Central American nations, after the Tren Urbano in San Juan, Puerto Rico. On February 27, 2008 president Leonel Fernández test rode the system for the first time and free service was offered thereafter several times. Commercial service started on January 30, 2009. Several additional lines are currently being planned. The Santiago light rail system is in planning stages.
There are two transportation services in the Dominican Republic: one controlled by the government, through the Oficina Técnica de Transito Terrestre (O.T.T.T.) and the Oficina Metropolitana de Servicios de Autobuses (OMSA); and the other controlled by private business, among them, Federación Nacional de Transporte La Nueva Opción (FENATRANO) and the Confederacion Nacional de Transporte (CONATRA). The government transportation system covers large routes in metropolitan areas, such as Santo Domingo and Santiago.