Some 300 international visitors from the United States, Asia, Europe and the Western Hemisphere descended on Santiago, known as the “cigar capital of the world,” to participate in the fifth PROCIGAR Festival.
Guests visited the cigar factories of the following world-famous tobacco companies: Partagas, H. Upmann, Macanudo, Zino, Leon Jimenes, Romeo y Julieta, Fonseca, Avo, Juan Clemente, La Aurora, Fuente Opus X, Hemingways, Griffin’s, Montecristo, El Credito, Don Diego and Davidoff.
The history and culture of the Dominican Republic is closely tied to the cigar industry. This history has contributed in making the Dominican Republic a world leader in the production and marketing of quality cigars.
The festival activities began at the famous Casa de Campo resort in La Romana, on the country’s east coast.
It later continued in the centrally located city of Santiago, the country’s second largest city, where organizers provided the visitors with an extensive program of activities which included seminars, dinners and visits to cigar factories.
Scheduled in the program was a visit to the Brugal Rum Factory, in Puerto Plata, the north coast’s most important city.
The visit also included a full day at one of the city’s nearby picture-perfect beaches.
The festival ended with a dinner where Hendrik Kelner, president of PROCIGAR, reminded visitors that the tobacco industry is closely tied to Dominican history and culture.
In his remarks, he explained that when Christopher Columbus landed on the island he wrote in his diary that these were the most beautiful lands his eyes had ever seen. Columbus also described, said Kelner, how the original inhabitants of the island greeted the Europeans.
Five centuries later, our lands are still beautiful and its people continue to receive foreigners with the same joy and hospitality, explained Kelner.
He also explained that the native inhabitants of the island traditionally burned tobacco leaves in order to communicate with their gods, and ask them for peace and prosperity.
He concluded by indicating: “At this point I ask that we rescue this tradition, and smoke Dominican cigars in order to create a mist of peace and send a message of tolerance, love and friendship to the world.