There’s a hassle in paradise. A string of suspicious deaths in the Dominican Republic is raising severe protection issues approximately journeying to this famous Caribbean island, and with the information of yet every other American vacationer death there while on an excursion, tourists are skittish. Their fears are being compounded through other noticeably publicized incidents, inclusive of the attack of a woman vacationer and a subsequent attack on a male tourist at the identical inn, the shooting of a former Boston Red Sox participant and a large number of reports approximately mysterious ailments inside the Dominican Republic, along with that of Melissa Rycroft, a former contestant on “The Bachelor” who got unwell after a vacation along with her own family in early June.
The Dominican Republic’s minister of tourism insists that the u. S. — which attracts 2.7 million American tourists a yr — is safe. “The Dominican Republic is a secure united state,” Francisco Javier García advised journalists on June 21. “There isn’t any such thing as mysterious deaths inside the Dominican Republic,” he stated. “There isn’t always an avalanche of deaths.”
According to García, the number of latest deaths is not unusual and is decrease than in some previous years like 2011 and 2015, while — via June — 15 vacationers had died within the Dominican Republic. “We need the truth to be triumphant,” stated García, who attributes all the deaths to natural causes. “There is not anything to hide right here.”
García also talked about that the U.S. State Department has no longer raised the hazard level for the usa, which was issued in April 2019 and stayed at a (“exercising elevated caution”), the same degree of countries like Spain and France. “Violent crime, inclusive of armed robbery, murder, and sexual assault, is a difficulty in the course of the Dominican Republic,” reads the advisory, which has not been revised to include health warnings.
But Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations and crisis management expert, tells ForbesWomen that is the wrong response. “Officials from the Dominican Republic have now not addressed the troubles and events in an optimistic way. They have been very combative and shielding with their reaction,” says Torossian. “These incidents have located a dark cloud over the island. People are involved and have chosen to express their worries and concerns over social media, which spreads like wildfire. To brush aside these debts as ‘faux news’ is an enormous mistake — and they are ignoring the real trouble. Multiple lifeless vacationers are ready as severe because it receives.”
Many vacationers aren’t taking probabilities. According to ForwardKeys, which analyzes airline records, cancellations with the aid of U.S. Vacationers seeking flights to the Dominican Republic have accelerated by way of forty-five % between June 1-17, and bookings to the island for journeying at some stage in the upcoming months (July and August) have reduced through 59%, in comparison to 12 months in the past at the identical time. The American Society of Travel Advisors has reported that 60% of its contributors have canceled journeys to the Dominican Republic deliberate by using U.S. Tourists. And Kayak is saying that flights searches for the Dominican Republic have decreased by using 19% due to the fact the beginning of the month.
Even vacationers who are continuing with their plans are taking preventative measures. According to a brand new report from InsureMyTrip, search queries related to journey insurance for journeys to the Dominican Republic are up 600% in comparison to the equal time closing 12 months. “We are monitoring the state of affairs and urging vacationers to talk with their licensed travel coverage agent about their alternatives,” Erin Gavin, tour insurance analyst at InsureMyTrip, tells ForbesWomen.
TravelInsurance.Com, the quickest-developing on-line contrast website online for consumers to search for, compare and purchase tour coverage, has additionally visible a marked boom in inquiries to their customer service traces. “Policies with DR as primary vacation spot purchased 12 months to this point are up almost 60% over the same period closing year,” says Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.Com. “In unique, this month, policies bought with DR because the primary vacation spot are pacing to greater than double (115%) the common of the prior three months.”