TIPS | Is it safe to travel to Dominican Republic ? What can you do to keep yourself safe?
There have been a lot of media reports about Dominican Republic and tourists who have unexpectedly died. This has created a lot of shock, fear, and anxiety, where people are commenting on social media about cancelling their visits to the Dominican Republic & calling it an unsafe place to visit.
While we take the stance that any tragedy from a travel experience is an unfortunate circumstance, and we do not condone any behaviours that contributes to such an outcome, we also will not project any negative information, opinions, or direct bias towards a country, especially when it is still under investigation. We position ourselves with the intent to educate our clients and readers about traveling, and ways they can keep themselves safe when doing so.
We have been asked by many clients and readers about our take on the deaths arising out of The Dominican Republic, and thus we decided to share some facts, and safety tips about DR and traveling in general. We also suggest that you take a look at our other posts in relation to travel safety on our blog, for more ways you can keep yourself safe when visiting a destination here: https://luxeandlavishtravels.com/blog/2019/3/2/safety-tips-travel-safety-tips-for-women-business-travelers
Like most islands in the Caribbean, Dominican Republic is classified as a third world country. Third world countries can be defined by high poverty rates, economic instability, and lack of basic human resources compared to the rest of the world. This means that with any country that experiences a large volume of poverty, crime is definite, and that area will have a higher concentration compared to other parts.
In particular, the incidents reported in the media regarding 9 tourists who have died either in DR or after visiting, have all had some kind of pre-health complication, flu like symptoms or have died of natural causes.
All deaths reported in the media have been US residents
There has not been a spike in tourist deaths in the DR. In fact, in 2018 there were 13 US resident deaths, in 2017 there were 17 US resident deaths
More than 2.7 million U.S. tourists visited the island in 2017, making the island the fourth most popular travel destination for Americans.
State Department issued a level two (out of four) safety warning for the Dominican Republic in April 2019. The warning advises travelers exercise increased caution due to violent crime in the country, which include armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault. The State Department says that resort areas tend to be better policed and safer that urban areas for travelers.
The FBI is working closely with the DR local officials investigation in the cases of the US resident deaths
There has been no formal connection with the deaths of all tourists
The State Department has not issued a travel warning because of the deaths
It is clear from the above information, that Dominican Republic is no more dangerous than before. “American tourists pass away frequently around the world, several in a day, it’s not unusual. But it is unusual hearing about Americans passing away abroad without it being something like a terrorist attack. We usually don’t hear about tourists dying of heart attacks or in their sleep, but that happens everyday with tourist traveling abroad, it is nothing unique to the Dominican Republic.” said Matthew Bradley, a former CIA agent and current Regional Security Director of International SOS, a travel security company
We also understand that when the media hones in on particular countries, there reasoning is in alignment with the geopolitical issues countries face with each other, which causes an increase in media reports. Aside from that, its important to note that you can still protect yourself or take safety measures when traveling. We outlined some safety tips below to help you with not only traveling to Dominican Republic, but also to other countries that you may not necessarily think about.
Visit a travel clinic at least 6 weeks before traveling especially if you might have a chronic medical condition or cardiovascular disease. Symptoms like sleep deprivation and stress can make a problem worse and sometimes not showing any signs or symptoms.
If you are concerned about the recent deaths, you should make sure you have a plan for what to do if you get ill.
Travelers should have the phone number for a nearby hospital and should check with their insurance providers to make sure they will be covered while traveling. It may also be a good idea to ask the hotels whether they offer on-site medical assistance. Travelers can also make arrangements to get immediate medical care back home if they have to leave unexpectedly.
Travelers should also pack extra medication in case their trip home is delayed.
Travelers should purchase travel insurance. However, it is important to note that travel insurance does cover second thoughts, but there are many other reasons.
Be sure to visit Roam Right at this link, http://www.travelinsurance.com for travel insurance (US Residents), or speak with your travel consultant to find out what you are covered for.
Follow the advice of resort and tour operators regarding local safety and security concerns.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
Stick to Bottled water
Currently, many airlines, such as Delta, Southwest, United and American Airlines, have advised that they will consider requests to cancel or change flights to the Dominican Republic "on a case-by-case basis." Similarly, hotels such as Marriott, are taking a similar approach.
Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s top tourist destination. About 6.5 million tourists visited the Dominican Republic last year, more than any other Caribbean nation.
We hope that the tips above help you to make an informed decision about Dominican Republic. Regardless of what you hear about any country, it is important to do your research, or speak to a professional that can guide you on next steps.
The Luxe and Lavish Travels