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Santo Domingo Undergoes Major Restoration to Boost Tourism

April 2, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Major revitalization work has begun in the Dominican Republic’s dilapidated colonial center in an effort to boost flagging tourism rates and restore Santo Domingo to its former glory.

The work was commissioned more than three years ago and urban planners have finally broken ground, uprooting street lights, repaving sidewalks and stripping away at the ancient European facades that have stood crumbling since the days of Christopher Columbus.

A main objective of the restorations will be to make Santo Domingo’s narrow, traffic-inundated streets wider and more gI_73716_iStock_000002789284Smallaccommodating to pedestrians. Some are worried the city could lose character as a result, while others see it as a fantastic way to put theoldest European city in the Western Hemisphere back on the map for vacation seekers (2). Carl McBurnie, Caribbean travel expert and owner of Caribique Villa Rentals, sees a bright future ahead for the restored Santo Domingo.

“Finally, visitors will be able to see this magnificent city the way it should be seen. It isn’t a matter of wiping away history or culture; if the renovation is done with care and respect for the city’s unique charm, it can be great news for both visitors and residents,” explains McBurnie.

“Look at Old Havana and San Juan, for example. Infrastructures were crumbling and it was virtually impossible for people to stroll along the sidewalks safely. After large scale renovations, these capitals saw a substantial increase in tourism and are now two of the most visited city centers in the Caribbean.”

Tourism is the biggest source of revenue for the Dominican Republic, so if the renovation project is successful, it could trigger a much needed economic boost. Santo Domingo’s historical Colonial Zone was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 (3).

“The history, art, culture and stunning architecture is reason enough to visit Santo Domingo but the city center is in need of a facelift to encourage people to detour from its world-class beaches,” added McBurnie. “There’s a lot more to Santo Domingo than what meets the eye and I’m really pleased this restoration project is breathing new life into this inspiring historic capital.”

(1) “Long overlooked, the Dominican Republic’s colonial capital gets a face lift” The Christian Science Monitor, 4 February 2014.
(2) “Santo Domingo” Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 October 2013.
(3) “Colonial City of Santo Domingo” United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Accessed: 31 March 2014.

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