Posted October 19, 2018 07:05:23When Hurricane Maria made landfall in the Dominican Republic last month, its winds caused the cancellation of a major tourism promotion.
But the devastation wrought by the Category 5 storm left a hole in the tourism industry.
The tourism industry relies on the influx of foreign visitors to generate revenue, but many foreign visitors were in the region for only a short period of time before they left, the country’s Tourism Minister, Louisa Marchese, told AFP.
“For us, we have no money to pay the rent,” she said.
“We are really struggling to stay afloat.”
For the past six months, tourism has been experiencing a severe downturn, with a number of major resorts being closed.
In June, the Bahamas cancelled an estimated 90% of its trips and shut down almost half of its resorts.
Tourism is a key driver of the economy, accounting for nearly a quarter of the countrys GDP.
“The tourism sector in the country is very important,” Marchesee said.
But tourism is only one part of the island’s economy.
“There are other sectors that rely on tourism as well, such as agriculture, agriculture, construction, hotels, etc,” she added.
“In the last couple of years, we also had a lot of development in the surrounding islands.”
There are no official figures on how many tourists visited the islands, but Marchesea said that the number had gone down from a year ago.
The countrys tourism industry is the second-largest in the Caribbean, after Dominica.
Tourists account for a quarter to a third of the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of the Dominican republic.
In 2015, tourism accounted for about a third, but this year it is projected to grow to almost a quarter.
But Marchee warned that a lot more needed to be done to revitalise the tourism sector.
“If the government is not looking to help us in this area, it will hurt our economy,” she told AFP, explaining that the country was still short of money.
“This has not stopped us from investing, but we have to find a way to generate more money from this sector,” she argued.
“I think it is the right time to try and invest more in the industry.”