Tourism to the Dominican Republic has plummeted after at least 12 Americans died in the island nation in the past year – but some Caribbean islands have seen the opposite, according to a new report.
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ForwardKeys, which analyzes more than 17 million flight bookings a day, found from June 1 to the 19th that bookings to the Dominican Republic for the months of July and August dropped by 74.3 percent compared to the same period last year. Bookings made from the beginning of April to May 31 increased by 2.8 percent.
Cancellations of bookings made to the Dominican Republic increased by 51.2 percent during the period of June 1 to the 19th. The site noted the cancellations jumped to 70 percent the day after the death of Leyla Cox, 53.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the families of the American tourists who have passed away,” Olivier Ponti, the VP Insights of ForwardKeys, said in a statement. “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.”
Despite the drop in tourism to the Dominican Republic, some islands have seen a boost, according to the data analyzed by ForwardKeys.
During the period of April 1st to May 31st, bookings to Jamaica were down 8.4 percent. However, during the period of June 1st to the 19th, bookings jumped 26.0 percent.
Bookings to the Bahamas were up 7.0 percent during the period of April 1st to May 31st. However, bookings surged 44.5 percent during the period of June 1st to the 19th.
From April 1st to May 31st, bookings were down 3.5 percent but during the period of June 1st to the 19th, bookings increased 31.3 percent.
“The recent deaths have sparked an extraordinary level of media interest in the USA, with many major news organizations reporting on the latest developments,” Ponti said in a statement. “It amounts to a dreadful image crisis for the Dominican Republic because the USA is the no.1 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 (WTTC). Since the latest death on June 13th, 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.”
The Dominican Republic also made headlines after former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz was shot in the back at a bar in the country's capital in June by a gunman who mistook him for the intended target, Dominican officials said Wednesday.
The Minister of Tourism of the Dominican Republic, Francisco Javier Garcia, said the deaths were not part of a mysterious wave of fatalities.
"We want the truth to prevail," Garcia said. "There is nothing to hide here."
An estimated 3.2 million Americans visited the Dominican Republic in 2018.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.