Agents have been assured travel to the Dominican Republic is safe following a spate of unexplained deaths at hotels that have been linked to bootleg alcohol.

Nine US tourists have died in the country in the past year, including at Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana, Excellence Resort in Punta Cana, the Grand Bahia Principe and Luxury Bahia Principe, both in Bouganville, and the Terra Linda Resort in Sosua.

Britons Sara and Kevin Taylor of Poole fell ill at the Grand Bahia Principe in May and cited toxic fumes as the reason for their illness.

The country’s Ministry for Tourism and the hotels in question said the deaths were “isolated incidents” and that properties were “operating as normal”.

Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts said it was “working closely” with authorities and would not comment on ongoing investigations.

“We would like to reassure our UK trade partners and customers that all Bahia Principe hotels and resorts in the Dominican Republic are operating for guests as normal,” a spokesman said.

The Hard Rock Hotel, which hosts about half a million guests a year, said it “purchases sealed and unopened products from licensed and reputable vendors” and it would “continue to evaluate and recalibrate protocols”.

Tui, through which the Taylors had booked, said it was aware of the issues. “We’d like to reassure customers these are isolated incidents in separate hotels,” a spokesman said. “Holidays are continuing as normal.”

Some agents called for answers to give to their concerned customers.

Homeworker Gaynor Tuby, of the Personal Travel Agents at Co-operative Travel, has customers booked to stay in Bouganville and said she had advised them not to drink from their minibar.

“It’s put a lot of people off and made some nervous,” she said. “They should give us some feedback. It sounds like it’s not isolated.”

Tuby added that hotels “should get rid of their [drink] stock and refresh with new stock so we can put our clients’ minds at rest.”

Tourism minister Francisco Javier Garcia said: “We are confident we can provide a definitive answer as soon as possible. The necessary measures will be taken to make the country even safer for all visitors.”

tw5