While many Americans are canceling their Caribbean vacations, experts tell PEOPLE that there's no need to panic
Is it safe to travel to the Dominican Republic?
Despite the rash of illnesses, the U.S. State Department has not issued an elevated travel advisory for the island nation. In April 2019, they issued a level 2 warning due to crime, but there have been no further advisories.
While many Americans are rethinking their travel plans, several experts tell PEOPLE that the number of people who have fallen ill is statistically minimal. “People do die on vacation,” says Sven Holmbom, manager of the Travel in Style agency.
The FBI and CDC have confirmed it is investigating the deaths of at least six of the tourists who have died since the summer of 2018. Some of them passed away in what appear to be bizarre — and similar — circumstances. The agencies are not yet releasing further details about the investigations.
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Robin Bernstein, the ambassador of the United States to the Dominican Republic, told Univision these high-profile incidents should not be considered anything more than isolated cases. “We have 2.7 million Americans who come to the country and the statistics is that this is a very … unique event,” Bernstein said in a statement. “They come to visit the beautiful beaches and enjoy the great culture. Unfortunately sometimes those things happen to people.”
Until the deaths and sicknesses are solved, “it’s hard to give any kind of advice,” says Christian Jannasch, destination manager for the travel agency Dominican Experts. “But if someone is worried and feels like they can’t enjoy the holiday, maybe they shouldn’t go.”