Delta Air Lines recently gave its passenger a chance to change or cancel tickets to one of the Dominican Republic’s airport. The cancelations are however exempted from the regular penalty. This waiver is being granted on flights going to and from Punta Cana; the place where 11 American tourists have died in the previous year.
Delta mentioned that recent activities (several deaths of the American tourists) in Punta Cana had led them to offer the waiver. The waiver is to be available through August 15, and in case one would want to rebook, they will have to do that no later than November 20. In the occasion that a passenger cancels his or her flight, they will receive a credit that will have a one-year warranty from the original date of booking. Other Airlines such as American, JetBlue, and Sun Country say that they are working with their passengers who want to change or cancel Dominican flights.
Tourists are starting to cancel their flight to Punta Cana following the recent death of Vittorio Caruso, who is an America. The American died of respiratory problems and heart failure, a condition he had for a long time. The death of Vittorio has made the total deaths of Americans in the Dominican Republic to be 10;
- Robert Wallace and David Harrison died at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
- Miranda died shortly after checking into her room at Bahia Principe
- Leyla Cox found dead in her hotel room at Excellence resort
- Joseph Allen died at the Terra Linda resort
- a couple, Edward Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day were found dead at Grand Bahia Principe
- Yvette Monique died at the Bahia Principe.
- John Corcoran found dead in his hotel room.
The Dominican officials are now struggling to reassure tourist that the deaths are isolated events in time and that the island is safe.
The officials’ affirmation is not changing anything at all. Tourists are avoiding the Dominican Republic at all costs. Between June 1 and June 19, flight cancellations have increased by 51% compared to the same time a year back. Also, booking of flights to the Dominican Republic has dropped by 74.3% in comparison with a time like this in 2018. Due to fear, tourists are now boarding flights to other destinations such as Bahamas, Aruba and even Jamaica.
The cause of these deaths is yet to be known. Several analysts without any firsthand autopsies believe that the deaths are mutually exclusive; with each possibly having its cause. For instance, the death of the two Americans who died at the Hard Rock club in Punta Cana might have been caused by the alcohol or something doped inside the drink. This conclusion was reached since the two tourists were from drinking before their deaths. Following their deaths was an announcement from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino: they were removing liquor dispensers from their minibars and rooms and hiring a U.S. health company to improve their services at the clinics. This they said was to improve the living conditions of the tourist: not because of the reported deaths.
Other presumed causes of these deaths were said to be poisoning as reported by the New York Times. The FBI is assisting with toxicology reports of some of the deceased with the United States Dominican Embassy saying that the results may take up to 30 days. They urged people to be patient as the investigations continue. Some of the deaths are believed to be of natural causes, but until the investigation reports are out, Dominican tourism will suffer a significant loss.
There are also cases of a tourist being assaulted at resorts in the Dominican Republic. Lawrence-Daley, an American woman, was attacked by a man who strangled and beat her. She was on vacation with the husband at the Majestic Elegance Resort in Punta Cana. The incident occurred on the second night of their stay when she has gone to buy a snack on the resort’s property. A local man was also beaten and nearly robbed while on vacation in the same resort later.
American citizens are not the only tourist dying in Dominica. Candale Saccone, a 15-year-old Argentina is in a coma after reportedly falling very sick on the morning of travel. She was supposed to return home from Punta Cana on 19 June but instead ended up in the hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with diabetic ketoacidosis even though the family said that she has no history of diabetics.
The Dominican Republic’s minister of health, Dr. Rafael Sanchez Cardenas, confirms that the medical reports show that the recent American tourist deaths are not related. According to the minister, the autopsies revealed that at least 5 of the people who died had pre-existing conditions of morbid obesity to hypertension. In defense, the minister said this to CBN news:
“What do we have here? Tourists who arrive with pre-existing conditions and die in this country as they do in all countries.”
The U.S embassy in Santo Domingo stood defenseless saying that they have no proof that any of the deaths are related: some families of the diseased are, however still skeptical about the reports.
Dominican tourism minister calls the spate of deaths exaggerated. He addressed some reporters saying:
“It is not true that there has been an avalanche of American tourist dying in our country, and it is not true that we have had mysterious.”
He then went on and claimed that the number of tourists dying in the republic has reduced by 56% over the last three years. With reports of three bodies yet to be released, the minister affirmed that they want the truth to prevail and that they have nothing to hid.
The death of these Americans has dramatically affected the tourism sector of Dominica. Things are not getting any better, especially with airlines allowing passengers to cancel the flight. The Dominican Republic is one of the top Caribbean tourism destinations with more than 6 million, of which 3 million come from U.S A, stopover tourists last year. This number is expected to reduce with all that is happening. The loss in the tourism sector is a significant problem for the Dominican economy. According to the minister of tourism, 17% of the nation’s gross domestic product comes from tourism.