The Dominican Republic has been the go-to vacation travel spot for Americans as of late with most of the island’s tourists coming from the United States. The Caribbean island has seen a massive increase in tourism since 2018.
The Spanish-speaking island on Hispaniola had 6.5 million tourists and is the top destination in the Caribbean for vacations. In 2019, visitors to the Dominican Republic increased by 20%.
The Dominican Republic has a Level 2 (Exercise Increased Caution) security warning on the U.S. State Department’s Travel Advisory for violent crimes such as murder, robbery, and sexual assault against American tourists. Countryreports.org indicates that U.S. citizens have been robbed and even murdered, and there’s a recommendation to leave anything of value stateside.
Lately, the island has been in the news and not due to its tropical landscape and sandy beaches but for a far more sinister reason. Americans are going on vacation in the Dominican Republic and not returning home. Since March, 70 tourists have reportedly have become violently ill with fever, diarrhea, and vomiting at several high-end resorts in various places like La Romana to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana. The two locations are about an hour apart.
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Americans are now dying at resorts. “Normal” vacation activities like drinking soda and liquor from the resort minibar and taking a nap are now deadly.
It’s being reported now as six deaths in one month, under questionable circumstances, have come to light. The FBI is currently involved and “helping” Dominican authorities investigate these deaths. Toxicology reports are not being given to families, or cause of deaths are incorrectly determined or minimized.
One traveler to the Dominican Republic, Awilda Montes from New York, stated the 7-Up soda she drank at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville resort contained bleach. The effects were immediate, and she spat up blood as her mouth burned from the chemical reaction. There was no police involvement, and the resort only offered her and her boyfriend a measly couple’s massage and dinner if they promised not to disclose what happened.
It has been a concern for over a year, but the Dominican government has swept the issue under the rug as not to hurt its lucrative tourist industry.
Some people claim that boycotting the island is anti-black because the island is primarily a Black nation (even though many Dominicans will say otherwise). They fear a boycott will further cripple Black Dominicans who earn a living off the tourism industry.
It’s an interesting theory because Black Dominicans are not likely to be the faces you’ll see at resorts, especially if you’re dark-skinned. There have also been incidences where Blacks from other countries, including Black Americans, have faced discrimination.
As a Black Latina, I understand both sides. However, the real issue is a tourist’s safety. Should Americans overlook the fact that there is no recourse by government officials in the Dominican Republic if something happens to them?
Going on vacation should be carefree. And of course, people should be aware of their surroundings and practice good judgment. It’s a sign of the times in which we live. I’m not saying we should live in fear or to not travel. I’m also not talking about petty crimes like pickpockets or a thief taking a person’s cellphone.
To those who say crime is everywhere and that it’s worse in America, that’s fine. But why would any sensible person pay money to go to an “oasis” only to be poisoned, killed, robbed or beaten when Americans can get that stateside for free?