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Tourists rethink trips to Dominican Republic after three American deaths

Meghan McCarty Carino Jun 10, 2019
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A beach at the Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic.
Ted Murphy via Flickr

The recent deaths of three American tourists at the same resort area in the Dominican Republic is generating problems for the tourist hot spot.

Last month, a Pennsylvania woman died shortly after arriving at her hotel. Just five days later, a Maryland couple were found dead in their room at an adjacent resort. Autopsies revealed the three suffered respiratory problems that contributed to their deaths.

The unusual similarities have many travelers reassessing plans to visit the Caribbean nation, where tourism is a $7 billion-a-year industry.

The white sand beaches and turquoise waters have made the country the top destination in the Caribbean with more than 6 million visitors a year, and led Virginia resident Kionne Johnson to make plans to go with his friend.

“He and I really like cigars, so we planned to tour one of the tobacco factories, you know, just really celebrate on the beach,” he said.

He was about to book the trip when the news broke about the deaths. “We all came together and were like ‘We need to pump the brakes on this trip,'” he said.

Philadelphia resident Hamlet Garcia is seriously considering canceling his July booking, even though he’s been a frequent visitor to the Dominican Republic over the last decade.

“I never expect this would happen,” Garcia said. “This is something that I heard happens in other countries.”

But risk management specialist Anthony Roman thinks the travel industry likely won’t feel long-term effects if the incidents remain isolated.

“When it comes to remembering what element created risk, the American public have short-term reactions,” he said.

As for Kionne Johnson, he’s already looking into Jamaica for his Caribbean escape.

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