The modern La Romana International Airport was opened in 1999. The city is near several other cities, such as San Pedro de Macorís and the national capital, Santo Domingo de Guzmán. The city is a hub for a growing tourist industry with several nearby local resort spots, such as the beachfront Bayahibe, Dominicus, Casa de Campo, and the growing number of golf resorts that surround the area.
The city of La Romana was founded in 1897 as an oil town. After 1917 with the construction of a large sugar-mill (owned by Italian immigrants in the region of Rome, Lazio) the economy quickly shifted to sugar production. The commissioning of the sugar mill coincided with the rise in sugar prices worldwide, prompting the sugar industry to welcome workers from other parts of the country, many poor families from the Dominican countryside moved to La Romana in search of a better life.
In early 1960, Gulf and Western Industries, Inc. purchased the sugar mill and started to invest in the livestock industry which was cemented in the province. Meanwhile, $20 million were invested to rebuild La Romana and build schools, clinics, housing and other infrastructure for workers. During the mid-1970s the American conglomerate began selling its Dominican assets, and at the same time built what is now one of the largest exclusive tourist resorts in the Dominican Republic, Casa de Campo.
Casa de Campo resort complex is the flagship of the La Romana All Inclusive Resorts area. Built in 1975 by Gulf+Western to be the premiere destination in the Caribbean, it has lived up to the hype. In 1984 Casa de Campo was purchased by the Central Romana Corporation which is co-owned by the Fanjul brothers.
Altos de Chavón is a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village located just minutes from La Romana.
Casa de Campo International Tourist Port (Muelle Turístico Internacional Casa de Campo), located on the West Bank of La Romana River or Rio Dulce, has been utilized primarily for the docking of commercial ships, primarily for the transport of sugar and molasses. Upon exceeding the capacity of its port, the Central Romana Corporation built its new tourism focused port on the east side of the river. The platform on the western bank was renovated and the river channel was dredged to a depth of 10.50 metres (34.4 ft).
Inaugurated with the arrival of the vessel Costa Marina on December 2002, the Central Romana Corporation invested US$12 million to extend the existing port by over 40,000 square metres (430,000 sq ft). The port is a modern platform and harbor terminal, with a capacity for two large modern cruise ships.
Today the new facilities boast two docking platforms (East Dock: 255 metres (837 ft) in length, West Dock: 225 metres (738 ft) in length), a 1,000 square metres (11,000 sq ft) passenger terminal and parking facilities which accommodate 24 buses.
La Romana is not a typical Dominican town; instead, it is a company town, with the Central Romana Corporation owning the majority of the town.
La Romana has been a one-company town since the South Puerto Rico Sugar Company built the mammoth Central Romana mill in 1917. It was the only sugar operation not taken over by Rafael Trujillo during his reign. From 1964 to 1967, the South Puerto Rico Sugar Company, including properties in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic became part of the conglomerate Gulf+Western. In 1984, the Gulf+Western Corporation sold their stake in the Central Romana Corporation to a group of local and foreign investors which includes the Fanjul brothers.
Gulf+Western acquired Consolidated Cigar in 1968 and shifted the Canary Island cigar-making operation to its Tabacalera de Garcia tobacco plant in La Romana. The Tabacalera de Garcia factory is currently one of the largest cigar factories in the world, and has been owned by the biggest cigar marketing company in the world, Altadis, since 1999. Three world-famous brands are produced in La Romana: Montecristo, H. Upmann, and Romeo y Julieta.
This town is characterized by its tremendous influence in the country's tourism programs. It's filled with beautiful beaches and many hotels and resorts. There are also many growing suburban areas and fenced communities This town has a large population, and all the problems associated with high-density areas. It does not have many notable sights in terms of architecture or urban spaces, being barely 100 years old. It grew very fast compared to the much older and slower-paced La Vega or Seibo, which are more typical Dominican towns.
Estadio Francisco Micheli is home to the Toros del Este, a baseball team in the Dominican Winter League.
In 1983, the government of Salvador Jorge Blanco, through the fund for development of this region, built the Polideportivo de La Romana (La Romana Sports Center), which was named after Eleoncio Mercedes in honor of the flyweight boxer who became world champion. The Cañeros de La Romana, a Dominican basketball team, play their home games here.