Many US tourists have canceled trips to the Dominican Republic after a series of deaths took place over the past year, according to the American Society of Travel Advisors, cited by CNBC.
According to the report, approximately 60 percent of US travel advisors have canceled trips for US clients to the nation whose ocean coasts, high mountains, deep jungles and extreme biodiversity make it the single most visited tourist destination in the region.
ForwardKeys business intelligence company, which analyses flights and traveler flows, told The Washington Post that flight cancellations to the country increased by 45 percent between 1 June and 17 June.
Flight bookings to the Dominican Republic for July and August decreased by 59 percent compared to a year ago, according to ForwardKeys.
The Kayak travel search website reported that online flight searches to the nation have decreased by 19 percent since the beginning of the month, a Fox News report says.
At least 11 US tourists died in the past year and eight of those deaths have occurred in the last six months, according to Global News.
Dominican Republic authorities claim there is no connection between the deaths, saying all autopsies only found natural causes, including pulmonary edema and heart attack. Victim ages vary between 45-78.
One US citizen was shot in the back by a gunman who mistook him for an intended target, according to Dominican Republic officials, cited by Fox News.
In 2018, some 6.5 million tourists visited the Dominican Republic and over 2 million US citizens visited the country in 2017, according to the nation’s tourism ministry, cited by Global News. The country’s tourism industry accounts for approximately 8 percent of its GDP.
On Friday, Dominican Republic Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia stated that there is no “trend” connecting the deaths, adding that “a handful of deaths among millions of visitors in not uncommon,” Global News report says.
“There is nothing to hide here,” Garcia said. “What some media are describing as an avalanche of deaths doesn’t correspond to the reality that we’re living today in the Dominican Republic.”