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Dominican Republic Says 'Land Here!'

DR Ministry of Tourism Seeks To Increase GA Pilot Tourism

By Deborah Grigsby

Just south of Miami, below Cuba, and west of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic is out to get pilots--and they're downright serious.  Just short of a searchlight and waving a big "Land Here" sign, the Ministry of Tourism has made it a mission to beef up private pilot tourism by 10 percent over the next three years.

"With 14 modern and welcoming airports throughout the country's distinct geographic regions, the Dominican Government aims to increase private flights to the DR," said Magaly Toribio, Vice Minister of International Promotion for the DR Ministry of Tourism. "Pilots will discover stunning views of coastlines, beaches, mountains, waterfalls and valleys with charming rural towns and modern cities."

According to Vanessa Welter, DR Ministry of Tourism spokesperson, said the "DR for Pilots" campaign is a unified effort among the Ministry of Tourism, Dominican Airport Department, Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation, Aeroclubs and private sector leaders and is designed to ensure to ensure private pilots are aware of how hassle-free it is to land and enjoy the Dominican Republic.

"In the DR, pilots will discover unique flying experiences not found anywhere else and experience world-famous Dominican hospitality. Less than a six-hour flight from Miami, it's easy for private pilots to fly to the DR. While many travel destinations can only welcome these pilots in the summer months, the DR is a warm, sunny place to visit year-round," said Aristides Fernandez Zucco, DR Minister and Director of the Department of Airports.

Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC) director Jose Tomas Perez emphasized the country's commitment to GA through its new "Flying Ambassadors" program, which was announced during a press conference at AirVenture 2010. The program, part of a Dominican Republic presidential decree, is designed to attract private airplane tourism; pilots will enjoy round-the-clock personal assistance with flight planning, customs procedures, fuel availability, as well as immigration and other documentation requirements.

The decree eliminates all agency fees on private aircraft weighing 30,000 pounds or less, including and experimental aircraft.

Miami flight service is available all the way to the DR, and in addition, the DR is radar-equipped and has English-speaking controllers.

"Pilots can cruise around the Central Mountain Range and land at Constanza, the highest airport above sea level where they will see Duarte Peak, the tallest point in the Caribbean," added Perez.  "But they can also explore arid deserts and Lake Enriquillo in the southwest, which marks the lowest point in the Caribbean. With nearly 1,000 miles of coastline, pilots can make landings at short sea-side airstrips along the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea."

The Dominican Republic is approximately 650 nautical miles south of Florida. At 130 knots, and a quick fuel stop in the Bahamas, it takes less than six hours to fly from Miami to the DR's famous Puerta Plata region.

Arrival and departure procedures are among the least troublesome of any island in the Caribbean. The pilot and co-pilot will need to present licenses and standard declaration forms.  Passengers need only complete standard immigration cards available at all airports.

FMI: www.GoDominicanRepublic.com

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