Is the Dominican Republic Safe for American Tourists?

Questions are piling up after a series of bizarre American deaths that have taken place throughout the Dominican Republic.

As a company concerned with your travel safety, we are here to shed light on the abnormal circumstances.

This is what we know.

Who died?

“According to news reports and the U.S. State Department, seven Americans have become ill and died this year in the Dominican Republic, under circumstances that are prompting questions,” reports The Washington Post.

The deaths, though varying, all took place while in destination or shortly after returning home to the United States.

Some of the deaths were reported to have occurred after partaking in drinks from the minibar, while others were reported to be caused by fluid in the lungs, enlarged hearts, internal bleeding and/or pulmonary edema.

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What caused the deaths?

Though most of the autopsy and toxicology reports are still in progress, some specialists have said that the travelers could have been exposed to a pesticide, poison or other toxicant.

“The Caribbean islands have bugs, and bugs aren’t popular,” Reynold A. Panettieri, a professor of medicine at Rutgers University told the Washington Post. “The Caribbean is fairly lenient on pesticides.”

A few of the victims reportedly consumed a beverage from a minibar before dying. Panettieri said that it’s possible for the drink to have accidentally contained a toxin.

“We have to put these deaths in perspective,” Robert Quigley, senior vice president and regional medical director of International SOS and MedAire told the Washington Post. “I am not going to ignore what happened, but deaths do happen, even in the Dominican Republic.”

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Is the Dominican Republic safe for tourists?

Though the recent events are particularly upsetting and alarming, they are not representative of the country’s dignity and safety as a whole. Experts have urged travelers not to avoid the country, arguing that a handful of cases shouldn’t taint the entire destination.

“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,” reports The Washington Post.

Just like traveling within the United States boarder or elsewhere, exercising caution and vigilance while in destination will lead to a fun, safe trip.

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How safe has the country typically been for U.S. visitors?

“Between the beginning of 2017 and the end of 2018, 30 Americans died in the Dominican Republic of non-natural causes, according to the State Department. Those deaths were caused by drowning, accidents, suicide and homicide.

Last year, nearly 6.6 million people visited the country; more than 2.3 million of those were from the United States,” reports The Washington Post.

In short — it’s been very safe.

What is the United States doing about it?

The FBI has confirmed that it is assisting Dominican police with the investigations. The State Department said there has been no evidence of foul play and no sign that the deaths are connected.

“It’s not an overly dangerous place,” Matthew Bradley, a former CIA agent and current Regional Security Director of International SOS, told TIME. “I would still consider the Dominican Republic a safe place to go.”

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What if I want to cancel my trip?

While cancellation policies do exist, we strongly encourage guests to stay up to date and not prematurely cancel their trip until authorities complete their reports.

Are other destinations experiencing these issues?

Short answer — no. These are isolated events.

If you do decide to avoid the Dominican Republic at this time, there are a lot of other destinations that may strike your fancy.

Here at BlueSun Vacations, we also plan trips for destinations throughout Mexico and other Caribbean countries.

We would also like to inform out guests that we have two BeachMasters headed down to the Dominican Republic later this week. If you would like, you can follow us on Instagram for real-time updates and news.

Read more:

8 questions about the unexplained tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic, answered

Is it safe to travel to the Dominican Republic?

Dominican Republic deaths: What we know

If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact your BeachMaster.