Dominican Republic bookings plummet after mysterious US tourist deaths

A spate of unexplained deaths of US tourists in the Dominican Republic has seen travel to the island plummet.

Other Caribbean islands have seen a jump in tourist arrivals as a result.

Three deaths at the end of May appear to have triggered the initial stall in bookings and the situation worsened with two other deaths in June.

Bookings from the US to the Dominican Republic for July and August have fallen by 74.3% over the same period in 2018.

This compares to a 2.8% year-on-year rise between April and May 31, according to ForwardKeys, which analyses over 17 million flight bookings a day.

There has also been a spike in cancellations of more than 70% following one of the most recent deaths on June 11.

However, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Aruba have benefited from an upturn of 26%, 44.5% and 31.3% respectively for the June 1-19 period.

ForwardKeys insights vice president Olivier Ponti said: “My deepest sympathies go out to the families of the American tourists who have passed away.

“Their recent and tragic deaths appear to have had a dramatic impact on travel to the Dominican Republic. Our analysis of leisure travel shows a striking correlation.

“The recent deaths have sparked an extraordinary level of media interest in the USA, with many major news organisations reporting on the latest developments.

“It amounts to a dreadful image crisis for the Dominican Republic because the USA is the number one source market for tourism to the destination and its economy is highly dependent on foreign visitors – 17.2% of GDP and 39.1% of export revenue, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

“Since the latest death on June 13, we see a further erosion of bookings and no immediate sign of recovery, so I hope the authorities are successful in providing explanations that will convince the American public.”

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