With swaying palms, endless beaches and all-inclusive resorts, the Dominican Republic draws millions of visitors each year looking to destress under the island sun. But just how safe is this island paradise? The State Department recently confimed the 11th death of an American tourist in the past year, and Global News reports from 28 Canadian deaths in the Dominican Republic since the beginning of 2019.
While no one knows for certain what caused these recent deaths, one thing that remains consistent: the fatalities occurred at the resorts or in the hospitals immediately after the victim fell ill at a resort. In addition to the deaths, many more tourists are coming forward with claims that they too became sick while at their resort.
One question remains: is it any less safe to travel to the Dominican than it was in 2017 when 17 US citizens died while vacationing there? With millions of travelers visiting the island each year, how concerning are these headlines to those looking for a dream destination? Stacie Leone of Pennsylvania recently traveled with a group of 44 to The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana. Here’s what Leone had to say upon her return, “We are all good and had such a wonderful time. It was truly paradise. The staff and the resort are amazing. You just have to be aware of your surroundings, but that applies anywhere you travel.” When asked if the recent media coverage caused Leone concern prior to her trip she replied, “The media is blowing it way out of proportion. We were not nervous at all.”
According to Robin Strayer owner of Robin Strayer’s Travel, the increased attention from the media may actually be a good thing. When asked by a client if she would travel to the Dominican Republic now Strayer states, “If anything, the publicity surrounding the Dominican Republic results in increased safety measures by the hotels and resorts.” Out of the clients she has traveling to the island, Strayer says “I have a couple of clients postpone their trip, but overall people are still vacationing to the Dominican.”
Many travel agents and even airlines are making accommodations for travelers when it comes to changing or refunding tickets. If you have a trip to the Dominican Republic planned and purchased your ticket through Delta Air Lines, the company is offering travelers the chance to cancel or reschedule flights through August 15. This offer is valid for passengers who booked their travel prior to June 21.
Currently, the U.S. State Department travel advisory is a level 2, meaning exercise increased caution when traveling to the Dominican Republic.
The bottom line? Vacation is meant to be relaxing. If you are hesitant to visit Punta Cana or other destinations in the Dominican Republic, consider one of the top 10 safest countries as an alternative.