I just returned from a weeklong tour of the Dominican Republic and I have to say that I have great hope and optimism for the country. I was very proud to be invited by the country’s Ministry of Tourism and while I certainly understand why they asked and what they hoped I’d say, it was the many small signs of progress that I saw that has me feeling so positive.
Four years ago it took me eight hours to navigate over bad roads from the airport to the large tourist hotels and beach resorts. Thanks to government-funded highways, the trip is now 90 minutes on comfortable, modern highways. But beyond the large projects (Donald Trump just built a golf course and resort in partnership with Julio Iglesias), I saw flower petals on the bedspread of my room each night. A tiny thing, but signifying that the hotels have now reached that level of management excellence once reserved for places like NYC, Paris, and Tokyo.
Even better was seeing natives of the country in management positions at various businesses. Their English was excellent, their education and business skills top-notch and their companies well-run; solid competition for any other company on earth.
The country has always been a shining beacon of democracy in the region but has also been hurt by poverty and slow growth. But with the improvements I saw this trip I have great hopes for the future. If the government continues to improve the infrastructure of the country and citizens can have access to good schools and medical care, the Dominican Republic could be one of the leading lights in the region in coming years, boasting a robust economy, stable government, and healthy, productive citizens. That is my hope.