Tourism

Dominican Republic to address tourist fears following multiple deaths

The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism will enforce new safety measures to calm tourist concerns after 10 mysterious deaths.

At least 10 American citizens have died due to an “apparent” health issue as recently as April and May in the Dominican Republic since 2018,  according to CNN

The nature of the deaths of three individuals specifically has inspired a toxicology investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which began late last month, with the results to be revealed within 30 days.

The Dominican Republic has committed to implement new safety measures to calm visitor concerns.

These include inspecting hotels more often, requiring hotels post emergency contact information in every room, adding more monitoring medical facilities in hotels and opening an emergency tourism centre.

“Given the amount of coverage that we have gotten over the last couple of months, we do recognise that there may be some concern among some of the tourists,” Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism chief of staff Pablo Espinal told CNN.

Every hotel in the country will also reportedly be required to post an emergency information card in every guest room with ways to contact embassies, the tourism police force and emergency services.

The qualifications of medical personnel working inside first aid facilities at hotels will also be checked for licensing requirements and training.

Further measures include a tightening of food and beverages in tourist destinations, with the Dominican Republic’s Minister of Tourism, Francisco Javier García Fernandez, revealing in a press release acquired by USA Today that hotels, going forward, will be required to “provide inspectors with detailed food handling protocols as well as comprehensive information on all food and beverage suppliers”.

This comes after the separate deaths of two men at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana, which reportedly occurred following their consumption of alcohol from the min-ibar in their rooms.

The hotel said last month it was in the process of removing liquor dispensers from guest rooms.

Dominican authorities have maintained the 10 suspicious deaths over the past year were due to natural causes. Dominican officials thus far have not identified any breaches in protocol at hotels and other tourist attractions.

García told reporters the Dominican Republic remains a “safe country” and there is “no such thing as mysterious deaths in the Dominican Republic”.

“There is not an avalanche of deaths,” he said.

According to the US State Department, there has not been an up-tick in deaths in the Dominican Republic, despite media reports.

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