Dominican Republic deaths: what travelers need to know
The sudden deaths of six American tourists vacationing in the Dominican Republic has raised serious safety concerns for travelers. The tourists varied in age, residence and medical conditions, yet all have died under seemingly similar conditions. The deaths have sparked a series of questions that both the Dominican Republic authorities and now the United States are thoroughly trying to answer. Here’s what travelers need to know.
What is being done?
The United States embassy in Santo Domingo announced this week that its ‘actively working’ with the Dominican Republic government to ensure American visitors feel safe. The safety and security of U.S. citizens that live in, work in, and visit the Dominican Republic remains our highest priority,” said ambassador Robin S. Bernstein in a released statement. Bernstein also announced that the FBI, at the request of the Dominican Republic authorities, will be conducting toxicology analysis on the recent deaths at the Bahia Principe resort in La Romana. Those results could take up to 30 days. Tourism Minister Javier Garcia initially downplayed the incidents, saying, “these are situations that can occur in any country, in any hotel in the world. It’s regrettable but sometimes it happens”. Minister Garcia has changed stance and extended his ‘sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those affected in the tragic events that have been reported over the last few weeks in the country.’ The United States has not issued a travel warning for the Dominican Republic.
Has there been an impact on tourism?
Nearly 6.5 million travelers visited the Dominican Republic in 2018, half of which arrived from the United States. From the beginning, the country tried to quell travelers’ fears. There’s even a minor hashtag campaign #BeFairWithDR circulating on Twitter. But the deaths, along with news of Boston Red Sox legend, David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz, getting shot while visiting his home country has further damaged the Dominican Republic’s public reputation. Several media outlets have reported a growing number of American tourists are postponing or even completely changing their travel plans to the Dominican Republic.
What are the hotels doing?
Four of the six deaths happened at the popular and all-inclusive Bahia Principe resorts. With 14 hotels and 7100 rooms, Bahia Principe is the largest hotel brand in the Dominican Republic. The other two happened at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana.
In a public statement, the company offered condolences to those impacted and stressed the resort has “maintained open communication with the authorities to provide information and clarification for each case”. Health inspectors, the CDC and WHO have joined the investigations.
Has this happened before?
As news continues to spread, people are coming forward with stories of getting ill while vacationing in the Dominican Republic. Authorities have stressed there’s no evidence connecting the deaths.
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