AUSTIN (KXAN) — The beaches of the Dominican Republic is what sold Kristi Watts and a group of friends to book a trip. They planned their vacation earlier in the year but recently canceled after some mysterious deaths in the country.
Several Americans have died in the Dominican Republic and others have reported illnesses in the last several weeks. Reports say tainted alcohol may be to blame.
“It was a place we’ve never been before and so we wanted to try something new and different,” Watts said. “It was easy to say, ‘Just don’t consume anything from the minibar,’ but what if that’s not where it stopped? What if it was from the swim up bar?”
Tourism officials insist the cases are isolated, but the FBI is now investigating. Some hotels like the Hard Rock said they’re removing liquor dispensers from guest rooms.
“One of the incidences did happen where we were going to stay,” Watts explained. “We went back-and-forth a lot before we decided to ultimately pull the plug and do something else.”
The group worked with a travel agent and were able to rebook to Jamica,
“There were some fees we had to pay in terms of different flights,” said Watts.
The U.S. Department of State lists the Dominican Republic at a Level 2 Travel Advisory. It says travelers should exercise increased caution due to crime. The advisory does not mention what’s happening at some of the resorts. The government has not issued an official warning to reconsider travel.
It’s important to note, for context, that a series of incidents in a country and not just overall crime can trigger travel advisories. After mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas in 2017, both Canada and Ireland increased their advisory levels for travelers heading to the United States. The advisory was equivalent to the United States’ level two.
Century Travel in Austin says if you are thinking about canceling a trip, go to the company that the trip was booked with to see what the options are to change or cancel it.
Also, some companies may be willing to rebook you to a different destination. Keep in mind, travel insurance is unlikely to cover a rescheduled trip since the U.S. government has not issued an official warning to reconsider travel.