The news of mysterious deaths of 12 Americans in the Dominican Republic this year has caused an inevitable drop in tourism to the once extremely popular Caribbean country. However, several other Caribbean nations are seeing a dramatic spike in visitors. One can only assume there’s a connection…
The heartbreaking news of mysterious deaths in the Dominican Republic shocked the American public to the point where many would-be travelers have canceled their vacations to the popular Caribbean island.
It’s painfully obvious from the numbers. According to ForwardKeys, a flight bookings analyst, bookings to the Dominican Republic for the months of July and August dropped by 74.3 percent this year, compared to the same period last year. In addition, booking cancellations to the country increased by 51.2 percent from June 1st to the 19th. The day after the death of Leyla Cox, cancellations skyrocketed to 70 percent.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean nation’s government did its best to try to control the situation. “In the last five years, over 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic, but this is the first time the international media report such an alarming situation,” Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia said in June. “These are isolated incidents and the Dominican Republic is a safe destination.”
Taking their business elsewhere
Whether the island is truly safe or not, there’s no denying the fact that the damage has already been done. Meanwhile, it appears as though a few other Caribbean countries have been capitalizing on tourists’ change of plans:
- Jamaica: The country saw a 26 percent increase in bookings from June 1st to the 19th.
- The Bahamas: From June 1st to the 19th, bookings soared over 44 percent compared to last year.
- Aruba. Bookings were up by 31 percent from June 1st to the 19th.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the families of the American tourists who have passed away,” said ForwardKeys vice president of insights Olivier Ponti in a statement. “Their recent and tragic deaths appear to have had a dramatic impact on travel to the Dominican Republic. Our analysis of leisure travel shows a striking correlation.”
Unfortunately, it is going to be very difficult for the Dominican Republic to recover from this blow. In 2018 alone, about 3 million tourists visited the island nation. Its economy depends on the tourism industry, which accounts for 17.2% of its GDP and 39.1% of export revenue. So far, many of the deaths have not been explained, and tourism to the island has not yet begun to pick up.
Staying safe while traveling
Some of the recent deaths may have been caused by counterfeit alcohol or toxic food, although at least 3 are still under toxicological analysis. Several travelers reported falling extremely sick after drinking alcohol from the minibars of their hotels this year.
For now, there are still no clear answers as to what caused many of the mysterious deaths, but Francisco Javier Garcia insists the country has “nothing to hide.”
Remember, one of the ways to make safety your priority when traveling to the Caribbean is to limit your alcohol intake. See the resources below for tips about how to stay healthy and safe while traveling:
- 8 Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling in the Caribbean
- Is the Caribbean Safe?
- Are Vaccines Required for Caribbean Travel?
- How to Prepare for Caribbean Travel