The Dominican Republic 2019
The US State Department warns of violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault.
“Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault, is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,” a travel advisory says, noting that resort areas tend to have more of a police presence than urban areas such as Santo Domingo. “The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.”
At least 36 Americans have died on the island since January 2018.
In the past year, 11 American citizens have died in the Dominican Republic, some as tourists others as long-term visitors.
A shocking story of Tammy Lawrence-Daley who was beaten by an unidentified man for 8 hours while at a Punta Cana resort in January. She spent five days at an offsite hospital and underwent surgery for her injuries. She also shared photos of her lying in a hospital bed bloody and badly bruised. Until now, no arrests have been made.
Organizations including the FBI, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating several of the cases.
Investigators are eyeing the possibility that bootleg liquor has poisoned guests. The question remains who supplied the liquor that tourists drank in the hours leading up to their deaths.
The FBI is assisting with the investigation and also testing alcohol samples from at least one minibar at the Bahia Principe resort to determine whether there were dangerous chemicals in the booze.
According to a report by ForwardKeys, which analyses more than 17 million flight bookings a day, bookings for July and August from the United States to the Dominican Republic have fallen by 74.3 percent compared to the same period in 2018.
However, at the same time as bookings for the Dominican Republic were stalling, bookings for other Caribbean islands increased. According to the report, bookings to Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Aruba were up 26.0 percent, 44.5 percent, and 31.3 percent respectively.
Delta is allowing travelers with flights to Punta Cana between June 21 and Aug. 15 to change to a different flight without having to pay a change fee, though passengers will have to pay any difference in fare. They can also cancel their trip and put the value toward a future flight, but would have to pay a fee and the fare difference.
JetBlue said in June it is waiving fees to change flights to, and from, the Dominican Republic. The airline will not charge a cancellation fee for anyone who cancels their flight; those travelers will get a credit for future JetBlue trips.
According to the U.S. State Department, Americans should use increased caution because of crime. The country is ranked as a “Level 2” out of four under the advisory system for foreign destinations.
The State Department also warns travelers not to drink alcohol alone or with new acquaintances, or to leave drinks unattended. It also cautions that U.S. citizens have been the targets of “date-rape drugs” at parties and resorts.
The agency also says that while the country has its own tourist police force and that resort areas are generally safer, urban areas like Santo Domingo aren’t very well-policed, and drugs, weapons, and a weak criminal-justice system are a concern throughout the country.