KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Dominican Republic has become the most popular Caribbean tourist destination with 6.5 million people visiting there last year.
Some people believe the recent rash of otherwise healthy vacationers dying of similar conditions is no coincidence.
Joe Siragusa, owner of Plaza Vacations, said to book clients there, he needs to see a marked change in policies and procedures at every resort and beyond.
“I say why don’t we pick another destination this year and see how they react to the events that are happening right now,” Siragusa said.
Nine Americans have died in the Dominican Republic over the past year. Seven of them in the past two months.
“Even the government’s response right now is irresponsible,” Siragusa said. “Every death or sickness is an individual case and not related because a husband and wife don’t die together at the same time, of essentially the same thing at a resort, it just doesn’t happen.”
Siragusa is referring to the sixth and seventh American vacationers to die in the Dominican Republic. Maryland couple Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day were found dead in their hotel room of what officials are right now calling natural causes.
Five days earlier, a 41-year-old woman also died in the same resort after having a drink from the mini bar. There have been two more deaths at two other resorts since.
“It is kind of tricky trying to decide.”
Christy Zeier works for Glabal Connections and planned a trip for 18 family members to the Dominican Republic to celebrate her twin sons’ 40th birthday.
“Without knowing what is happening over there and why this is happening, they just didn’t feel comfortable going there so we decided to change our trip to Mexico instead,” Zeier said.
Zeier said she is simply following the wishes of her family democracy.
“If it had just been myself and my husband, we would still go,” Zeier said. “I want to recommend going to the website travel.state.gov. They still haven’t raised it above the two.”
The government website advises to exercise increased caution due to crime. But does not mention anything about the odd deaths taking place. Even in the health tab.
“I would say if they wanted to go to the Dominican Republic, it probably wouldn’t be through Plaza Vacations,” Siragusa said. “Not right now.”
Officials are not linking the deaths in the Dominican Republic until toxicology tests are completed.
Travel experts warn that you should be extra cautious outside of the country and for sure if you go to the Dominican Republic, always make sure anything you drink has come from a sealed bottle or can.