I. Dominican Tourism Law 541
Dominican Tourism Law 541 of 1969 of the Dominican Republic declares of national interest the promotion of Dominican tourism, whether, historic, religious, archaeological, of natural resources and all other forms and its related activities. Tourism Law 541 was enacted at a time when most Dominican Tourism was of local nature and the country’s wide array of pristine beaches and natural resources were just being discovered by foreign investors.
In 2014, Dominican Tourism registered a record of 5,141,377 non-resident airport arrivals, an 8.8 increase over 2013, for an additional 451,607 arrivals.
In this regard, Law 541 and its regulations and Ministry of Tourism resolutions regulate the operation and licensing of tourism activities, such as travel and tourism agencies, tourism guides, hotels, restaurants, transportation, commercial free zones, gift shops, theme and amusement parks, excursions, timeshare properties, among others.
II. Tourism Tax Incentives Law 158-01
Finally, Dominican Tourism [Tax] Incentives for Development Law 158-01, as amended, provides upon tourism project approval for 100% exemption for 15 years, from income taxes, company incorporation and capital increase taxes, construction permits, property tax, property transfer tax, import taxes and other taxes, including value added tax applicable to equipment, materials and movables and taxes and withholdings from financing and accruing interests, to all persons that venture, promote or invest capitals in tourism activities such as hotels, resorts, cruises, conventions, congresses, festivals, shows/concerts facilities, basic services infrastructure, entertainment, bio/theme parks, port/maritime infrastructure, aquariums, restaurants, golf courses, sports facilities, tourism and residential real estate and any other facility related to tourism activities.
III. Hotel Establishments
Dominican Republic Tourism Regulation 2115 of July 13, 1984 norms the classification, start-up, registration, and all there is in connection with hospitality within the Dominican Republic territory. In order to begin hotel establishments, aparthotels and hospitality establishments star-ups, the regulation establishes that obtaining the operation or license authorization granted by the Ministry of Tourism is mandatory, and renewable annually.
The regulation establishes different types of Hotel Establishments, depending on their location, characteristics and services rendered, namely: a) City hotels; b) Beach hotels; c) Mountain hotels; d) Aparthotels and e) Bungalow or Cabins and Villas.
Establishments that are interested in starting up operations, should inform the Ministry of Tourism, according to the provisions of Regulation 2115 dated July 13, 1984.
The Ministry of Tourism shall set the corresponding category for each establishment, and will be vigilant in compliance with pricing matters, inspect the good functioning of the establishment and resolve claims that may arise, as well as assess the dimensions and characteristics that must be met by the hotel establishments, and fix each room capacity indicating the number of people that may occupy it.
IV. Restaurant Classification
Dominican Republic Tourism Regulation 2116 dated July 13, 1984 establishes the norms for the classification, start-up, and good functional order regarding the establishments that offer food and beverage services. A “restaurant” is considered as: “those service establishments that serve food and beverages to the public in general, in a regular or professional manner, for consumption in the same establishment for a determined price”.
In order to obtain start-up authorization or license of the establishment and its classification, the law requires a classification application, together with the plan of the establishment premises in scale 1:100 in which the name, purpose, dining capacity and number of seats is established. This request shall be evaluated by the classification committee in a period of no longer than 30 days.
Once the license has been granted, the establishment shall keep up with the quality, organization, kind treatment, cleanliness of the place and the services offered in the same for the preparation of foods and beverages, always using food in perfect state and being creative with each presentation.
V. Classification of Gift Shops
Dominican Republic Tourism Regulation 2123 of July 13, 1983 protects, authorizes and controls all commercial establishments that are dedicated to selling DR crafts or traditional items to individuals who visit the DR. The regulation defines gift shops as: “All commercial establishments that are dedicated to the sale of gifts of a traditional genre or crafts and all commercial entity mainly dedicated to selling to tourists”.
An authorization permit granted by the Ministry of Tourism, exclusively, is necessary to install or open, which may be approved after the applicant presents a project before the Gift Shop Section of such Ministry and has complied with the necessary documents thereto.
The Ministry of Tourism will be in charge of controlling, supervising and inspecting as well as preparing and keeping such registers updated, and of establishing the penalties and misdemeanors arising due to non compliance.
VI. Classification of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators
Dominican Republic Tourism Regulation 2122 of July 13th, 1984 regulates those specialized establishments authorized to act as intermediaries between the service providers and the public in general, which organize, sale and execute tourism plans such as hotel reservations, flight tickets, excursions, transportation, lease of sport and other equipment. These establishments are classified according to the services they offer in: (a) Wholesale Travel Agencies; (b) Reservation and Tickets travel Agencies; (c) Inbound and Outbound Operating Tourism Agencies; 2) Local and Domestic Operating Tourism Agencies.
In order to offer Travel Agency Services, an authorization must be requested before the Ministry of Tourism filed with the required documents as set forth in the Regulation for the Classification of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators. This authorization shall be valid for four years and renewable when expired.
Tourism Operating Agencies shall provide the Ministry of Tourism with a list of their tourist guides and supporting documents.
In order to insure compliance by the Travel Agencies and Tourism Operators, the Ministry of Tourism is responsible of organizing, biannually inspecting and intervening them.
VII. Classification of Tourism Transportation, Vehicle and Safari Jeep Leases
Regulation 2119 of July 13, 2984 of Tourism Passenger Land Transportation, modified by Decree 817-03, regulates the necessary requirements to ensure the good functional order of the vehicles used for tourism transportation such as cars, taxis, minibuses and buses, and the planning and implementation of the transportation services related to ports, airports, hotels and Dominican attraction sites for local and foreign tourists.
Tourism Passenger Transportation is defined by the regulation as “the use of the public road by national and foreign tourists in specific vehicle units to go to hotels, restaurants, airports, sea ports, beaches, rivers, lakes, amusement parks, tourism and ecotourism places and zones.”
Bus, Safari Jeep and vehicle lease companies (Rent-a-Car) must have an Operating License issued by the Ministry of Tourism in order to offer tourism transportation services, renewable annually.
VIII. Casinos Law
Dominican Republic Casinos Law 351, as amended, seeks the promotion of international tourism by authorizing the issuing of licenses for the operation of casinos and gaming halls in first class tourism hotels, as well as their regulation.
Dominican Republic Tourism Ministry Law 351 of August 6, 1964 and its amendments authorizes the issuance of Licenses to Gambling Establishments and regulates their functioning. The license application shall be filed before the Ministry of Finance with the following information: (a) indication of the games to be installed; (b) admission rules to the game rooms and the admitted maximum bets; (c) opening and closing hours.
Once the gambling operation has been authorized, a summary of the same shall be published in a nationwide newspaper and it shall be under the vigilance of the Ministry of Tourism.
Law 96 of 1988 allows gaming houses to install slot machines and may operate in any type of currency.