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Friday,  April 12, 2024 7:25 PM 

On Location: WestJet Vacations partners with BDExperience to elevate transfers, excursions

On Location: WestJet Vacations partners with BDExperience to elevate transfers, excursions
From left: Rosangel Rodríguez, destination director, BDExperience, the Dominican Republic; Tanya Louise Flandol Chal, regional manager, Caribbean, WestJet. (Pax Global Media)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

WestJet Vacations has partnered with transportation and destination management company BDExperience to elevate transfers and excursions for Canadians travelling in the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

The strategic alliance, which took effect March 1, 2022, was explained in greater detail last week at the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange, better known as “DATE,” which took place at Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort from May 11-13.

The aim of the service, said Rosangel Rodríguez, destination director of BDExperience in the Dominican Republic, is to provide guests with “personalized attention” when they arrive in destination.

This includes having representatives greet customers at the airport when they land in Punta Cana, for example, and serve as a point-of-contact, in destination, for booking excursions.

READ MORE: Air Transat, Sunwing & Air Canada sign cooperation agreement with the DR

“One of the missions of this company is for passengers to feel represented at all times,” Rodríguez told reporters at a press conference on Friday (May 13). “It’s very important for [clients] to feel confident. Sometimes when you travel, and don’t know anyone in a country, you can feel nervous.”

The service is much like “having an assistant” in destination, Rodríguez later told PAX.

Tanya Louise Flandol Chal, regional manager for the Caribbean at WestJet Vacations, said the service will automatically apply to all packages with WestJet Vacations.

“We want to ensure we’re providing the best service,” Flandol Chal told PAX. “We want everybody to see that we’ve got the best option on the ground in the Dominican Republic and Cancun.”

BDExperience is part of Mexico-based Despegar Group, which has a varied portfolio of more than 200 products in destination, including Best Day Travel Group, and more than 35 years of experience in first-class service.

In a statement, Juan Tomas Diaz Infante, president of BDExperience, said he is “confident that our country will focus on diversifying markets by establishing commercial ties with Canada and Latin America so that more and more travellers have the opportunity to explore the benefits of Dominican Republic.”

Building the Canadian connection

DATE, which brought together tour operators, hoteliers, suppliers and media from more than 25 countries, unfolded last week with meetings and events aimed at securing partnerships and promoting the Dominican Republic’s cultural attractions.

The conference, which PAX covered on location, is considered Dominican Republic’s primary platform for business meetings between international travel agents, tour ops and suppliers.

Travel suppliers, buyers, sellers and media gather in the Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort convention centre to kick off DATE 2022. (Pax Global Media)

Earlier last week, Rafael Blanco Tejera, president of the Hotel and Tourism Association of the Dominican (Asonahores), told PAX that the Dominican Republic is “in good hands” as far as arrivals and clients are concerned, having “practically recovered” its pre-pandemic traffic levels. 

Local officials, last week, emphasized the importance of restoring the DR’s connectivity with Canada.

READ MORE: Dominican Republic is in “good hands” – DATE 2022 kicks off at Barceló Bávaro

At a May 12 press conference attended by the Dominican Republic’s Minister of Tourism David Collado and the country’s President, Luis Abinader, officials outlined the important role Canada, as the DR’s second driver of tourism, will play in the nation’s pandemic recovery

To cement relations, the Ministry of Tourism and Asonahores signed an agreement with Canadian tour operators that promised new air routes between Canada and the DR and heightened promotion.

From left: Renée Boisvert, VP of products, Air Transat, Eric Rodriguez, EVP, partner development, Sunwing Travel Group; Dina Bertolo, VP of product development, Air Canada Vacations at DATE 2022. (Pax Global Media)

Appearing at DATE to ink the deal was Renée Boisvert, vice-president of products at Air Transat, Eric Rodriguez, executive vice-president of partner development at Sunwing Travel Group and Dina Bertolo, vice-president of product development at Air Canada Vacations, who joined officials on stage to express their commitment to promoting the Dominican Republic in Canada.

The symbolic signing took place after the Dominican Republic, in April, welcomed more than 626,000 visitors, marking the first time the destination had received more than 600,000 travellers in a calendar month.

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